Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija, defended a controversial coffee deal between the government and an Italian investor company, arguing that the agreement is not monopolistic.
Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija has defended the controversial coffee deal that was signed between the government and an Italian investor company saying that the agreement is not monopolised to one beneficiary.
While appearing before the parliamentary Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry earlier this week, the finance minister said the agreement gives access to other potential investors to invest in coffee value addition.
“This agreement does not deter other potential investors from investing in value addition; UVCC provides an opportunity for the country to fetch better prices for high grade coffee. The company aims to establish several hubs across the country intended to enhance traceability of farmers and to eliminate middlemen,” Minister Kasaija told the committee.
His submission arose from the fact that some legislators have since raised fear that the controversial coffee agreement favours the Italian company at the expense of local farmers.
In February 2022, Kasaija, on behalf of the government, signed an agreement with Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited (UVCC) owned by an Italian investor, Enrica Pinetti, to have exclusive rights to buy Uganda’s coffee for processing.
As well, several incentives and concessions were extended to the same coffee company including allocation of 27 acres of land at the Industrial Park in Namanve, construction of an access road linking the plant to the main access road and power transmission to the plant at Government’s cost, and exemption from all kinds of taxes among others.
Responding to the outcry, the finance minister reiterated that the deal will be beneficial to Ugandans and the coffee farmers in particular who have been yearning for value addition.
His submission was supported by the Attorney-General, Kiwanuka Kiryowa who also told the Committee that the above company has proper legal record in the country.
He said the signed contract also did not breach any provisions of the law as claimed by some parties.
“I checked the company’s legal standing and I was convinced that the company has proper legal standing in Uganda, therefore the contract has no breach of any provisions of the law. So, I confirm that I carried out legal due diligence on the company and I am convinced it is in compliance with the provisions and any of the laws,” Kiwanuka said.