Speaker Kadaga bashes trade committee over sugar bill
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has faulted the Trade Committee of parliament for rushing the Sugar Bill 2016 and overstepping their mandate.
Kadaga, who has been away for close to a month because of ill health expressed her concern in a meeting with Busoga Kingdom officials led by the Prime Minister, Joseph Muvawala over the Sugar Bill 2016.
The kingdom officials petitioned the speaker on the proposed zoning of cane out growers.
The Committee introduced zoning in the Sugar Bill 2016, which was returned by President; Yoweri Museveni on grounds that absence of zoning is killing the sugar industry.
The president asked MPs to include zoning in the sugar bill, which is meant to ensure that there is a sustainable, diversified, harmonized, modern and competitive sugar sector to meet domestic, regional and International requirements.
During the meeting, Muvawala demanded a review of the provision on zoning, saying it has started affecting sugar cane out growers.
He explained that the proposal to compensate some factories and close them was made in bad faith as the Government doesn’t cater to the value chain of the sugar production.
According to Muvawala, the sugar canes out growers are currently being exploited and that is what could happen with zoning. He asked the Speaker not to allow such a proposal to go through.
On her part, Kadaga faulted the committee for doing a poor job in regards to reviewing the returned bill by the president.
According to Kadaga, the committee should have looked at only the issue of zoning and other items forwarded by the president, but they ended up including issues like compensation for cane millers among others.
She also faulted the committee for rushing the bill without providing adequate time and scrutinizing the proposal.
The committee recommends that a 25 Kilometer radius be provided in the sugar bill as the minimum distance between millers and that the factories that fall within the radius be relocated at a cost met by the government that issued the license.
They also recommend that all new licenses issued after 2004 should all be recalled and that the ministry prior to licensing should ensure all applicants fulfill the conditions of the minimum nuclear estate of 2,000 hectares, 25km zoning requirement and protecting out grower’s food crop land.
The committee also recommended that the government takes deliberate steps to support out-grower farmers to form cooperatives to protect them from bad commercial practices of unscrupulous sugar mills. Initially, sugar companies funded an out-grower system where a company gives out-grower seeds and fertilizers in return of raw products.
This led to the domination of sugar territories by the big companies, while the small and new companies struggled to get supply leading to a number of challenges that include sugar cane poaching and price differences between the players.