Perkson Arinaitwe, Moses Matovu and Anna Itaza representatives of Uganda Vinci Coffee Company appearing before Parliament’s Trade Committee
Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) authorized the Italian investor Enrica Pinetti, the the proprietor of Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd to mortgage 25 acres of land Government of Uganda donated to the investor at 2:36am even before the request from the investor was made.
The shocking secrets emerged today during Parliament’s Trade, Tourism and Industries Committee and representatives of Uganda Vinci Coffee Company.
Jinja North County MP, David Isabirye tasked Vinci Coffee Company representatives to explain why they used the land title of the 25acres of land gifted to the company to secure a loan from a commercial bank.
“The letter was written on 1st September 2018 to the acting board chairperson of Uganda Investment Authority and it was replied at 2:36am in the morning, then the acting executive director acknowledged and gave a no objection at 7:59Am when offices were closed. I want to applaud them for working trans-night, you work at 2am,” Isabirye remarked.
His remarks were in relation to a question posed by Mwine Mpaka, the Mbarara City South MP, who tasked Moses Matovu, the Company Secretary of Uganda Vinci Coffee Company to respond to reports that contrary to the glossy proposal of injecting US$80Million into the coffee processing and export, Vinci Coffee factor used the title of the land given out to the investor in Namanve Industrial Park as mortgage in order to secure a loan to raise money for the construction of the factory.
Matovu denied, saying that UVCC has neither borrowed any money nor mortgaged the title of the land in Namanve.
“I also heard that UIA is in the room, they are the leaser in respect to that land, if they have information that this land has been mortgaged, I would like to see that information. But as Company Secretary I can confirm to you that we have never borrowed, we don’t have any loan,” said Matovu.
But it wasn’t long before Richard Muhumuza, the Bwamba County MP, tabled before the Committee a 30th August 2018 in which Pinetti wrote to UIA Acting Director Basil Aja seeking authorisation to use the land title to secure a loan, thus punching holes in Matovu’s earlier denials that there was never such a move.
The Committee was further shocked to learn that although Pinetti is said to have written the letter requesting to mortgage Namanve land on 30th August 2018, the letter from UIA authorizing the transaction came on 3rd August 2018.
This prompted Matovu to acknowledge presence of the letters but insisted although the intention was made, it didn’t materialize.
“I am aware of those letters and indeed they appear what they appear to be. But I can confirm that we have never borrowed any money and we have not mortgaged that land. The document you have is permission to mortgage, it isn’t a mortgage, you will not find a mortgage signed by UVCC with any financier. You will not find any loan with any banker as of this time,” said Matovu.
His remarks were however dismissed by Mwine who pointed out that when Pinetti requested for the mortgage, her request was processed at an alarming speed and in the wee hours of the night, which points to the request being urgent.
“You can’t come to this Committee and say you have never mortgaged but the intention was to mortgage and when you look at these documents, you can see there was so much speed and haste. The fact that Pinetti requested and was granted permission at weird hours using email addresses because I believe it is the board supposed to approve,” said Mwine.
Robert Mukiza, Executive Director Uganda Investment Authority informed the Committee that for a foreign investor to be allowed to mortgage the land title to acquire a loan, they are required to have constructed the factory to 60% completion while the local investors are expected to fulfill the construction to 30%.
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UIA didn’t consult parliament.