The Deputy Attorney General, Hon. Jackson Kafuuzi (left) and the Deputy Solicitor General, Pius Biribonwoha, appearing before the Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry on Tuesday 28 November 2023
Deputy Attorney General, Hon. Jackson Kafuuzi has reassured lawmakers that the proposed Stakeholder Sugar Council will be independent.
The Sugar Act, 2020 establishes a Sugar Board but it will not be implemented following rationalizing of government agencies. The Sugar Board was expected to regulate the sugar industry through licensing of millers.
Kafuuzi however said that the law will now be amended to introduce a Sugar Council, adding that licensing will be undertaken by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.
He said that the move is intended to address concerns of independence of the Council.
“Clause 7 of the Bill states that one of the mandates of the Council is to review applications for sugar licensing, establishment, expansion of sugar production and provide recommendations with justifications to the Minister to grant licenses or reject,” said Kafuuzi, while appearing before the Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry on Tuesday, 28 November 2023.
The Committee is currently considering a petition by Uganda Sugar Manufacturers Association against licensing of new millers.
The Deputy Solicitor General, Pius Biribonwoha, said that the Council will consist of sugarcane farmers and millers from all catchment regions.
“The activities of the Council, including extension services, marketing development, research and development will be financed with funds generated from the sugar levy on millers. Government will not appropriate funds to finance activities of the council,” he said.
Hon. Richard Gafabusa (NRM, Bwamba County) however raised concern over government’s reluctance to support sugarcane farmers.
“Why are we leaving sugarcane farmers and millers to finance the Council and yet we are generating so much from the industry. The reason why so many sugarcane farmers are complaining is because milers are exploiting them,” said Gafabusa.
He also questioned the sustainability of the Council, saying that the body risks failing to finance activities during periods when the industry is making losses.
“How will government supervise the Council since you do not have control. I am anticipating more chaos because of less government influence,” Gafabusa added.
The legislators also questioned the legality of licenses that were issued after the Act came into force, in the absence of the Sugar Board.
“The power to license in the Act currently lies with the Board, not the Minister and that is why we are wondering how the Minister is coming to license now,” said the Committee’s Deputy Chairperson, Hon. Catherine Lamwaka.
Kafuuzi however declined to respond to the legality of the new licenses, saying that the Ministry of Trade is better placed to respond.
“There was a vacuum, you have created a Board but we do not operationalize it so its mandate is not effected. It is only the line Ministry that takes charge and that is why I get the concern that perhaps we should be here together with the Ministry of Trade. We would have answered these questions better together,” he said.
The Committee resolved to meet the Trade Minister and Attorney General on Thursday, 30 November 2023.
Source:Parliament Of Uganda