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Attorney General, Finance Minister defend the controversial coffee deal

By Melanie Aanyu,

The Attorney-General, Kiwanuka Kiryowa, and the minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija, have defended the controversial coffee contract between the government and the Italian investor that has ruffled feathers since last month.

While appearing before the parliamentary Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry, the Attorney-General told the committee that the contract is legal and binding.

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.

This was on top of several incentives and concessions extended to the same coffee company that, among others include: 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.

Kasaija allayed MPs’ fears that the contract favours the coffee company at the expense of local farmers. He insisted that the UVCC deal is beneficial to Ugandans.

Bwamba County MP, Richard Gafabusa, questioned why the government did not consult widely before signing the controversial coffee contract. He also wondered why there was no termination clause in the contract that was signed with UVCC.

The trade committee is still sceptical about the coffee deal as there are significant documents that are still missing and questionable.