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GOV’T SUSPENDS CONTROVERSIAL COFFEE DEAL

Our Reporter

KAMPALA: Government has suspended the controversial Ugx 284 billion Coffee processing agreement it had signed with an Italian Investor under the Uganda Vinci Coffee Company (UVCC) after receiving media backlash and public criticism.

The controversial coffee deal was signed on February 10, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija signed an exclusive coffee processing contract with Ms. Enrica Pinetti, the purported owner of UVCC, witnessed by Mr. Ramathan Ggoobi (Secretary to the Treasury) and Mr. Moses Matovu (UVCC company secretary).

The Coffee deal aimed at giving the Italian investor full monopoly in the coffee sector with her company getting sole powers to process and export Uganda’s coffee in Europe and the Middle East.

After thorough investigations and summons by Parliament, it was later discovered that the acclaimed investor, Ms. Pinetti the purported owner of Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited (UVCC) also signed the Coffee processing contract as a witness raising a lot more questions on who could be the rightful owner of the firm.

When contacted about the matter, Hon. Evelyn Anite, the State Minister of Finance for Investment and Privatization said that she also just saw the agreement from the media.

In a turn of events, Government has now set up a ministerial committee comprising of the Energy Ministry, Agriculture, Finance, Works ministry and the Attorney General to review the agreement and suspend the signed deal.

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The Speaker of Parliament Anita Among also directed the Committee Chairperson Mwine Mpaka to investigate the signed coffee deal.

The Parliamentary Committee on Tourism Trade and Industry summoned Matia Kasaija, Enrica Pinetti, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Finance Ramathan Ggoobi, Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka, Minister for Trade Industry and Cooperatives Francis Mwebesa, Minister for Agriculture Frank Tumwebaze and the Solicitor General.

Other are; Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), Uganda Coffee Federation (UCF), Uganda Coffee Quality Trader’s Association, Uganda Coffee Trader’s Alliance, Rwenzori Coffee Trust, Bugisu Cooperative Union, Ankole Coffee Cooperative Union, UNZO Coffee, Uganda Large Scale Farmers Association, BUCADEF, UGACOF, KAWACOM, ESCO (U) LTD, and OLAM (U) LTD.

The Minister for Agriculture Frank Tumwebaze denied any involvement in the signing of the coffee deal. He said his ministry was not involved and asked everyone to pose their questions to the Finance ministry.

Ggoobi said the coffee agreement will support the government in achieving its coffee production target from the current 7 million bags per year to 20 million bags by 2030.

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