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Govt to pay Somali investor Shs40bn for sugarcane project

Details of the latest bizarre government-to-investor funding also shows that Moghe, who trades under Horyal Investment Holding Company Limited, will be piggybacked by taxpayers, who will foot bills for buying herbicides, labour costs as well as other farm implements.

NATIONAL | The government is set to gift Somali-born businesswoman Amina Hersi Moghe over Shs41 billion of taxpayers money to plant sugarcane for her envisaged Atiak Sugar Factory.

Details of the latest bizarre government-to-investor funding also shows that Moghe, who trades under Horyal Investment Holding Company Limited, will be piggybacked by taxpayers, who will foot bills for buying herbicides, labour costs as well as other farm implements.

The details of the supplementary request was introduced to Parliament by the Ministry of Finance and the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADs) has been charged with defending the supplementary request before Parliament takes a decision on recommendations of the Committee.

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Samuel Mugisa, executive director of NAADS, told the committee that of the money required, Shs10.650 billion was provided for in the 2018/2019 Budget but the rest of Shs30 billion remained unfunded.

He said there is need to have the money availed because the dry season in Northern Uganda sets forth in October and it would be prudent to begin planting in the first season.

According to documents before the committee, Shs6,158,205,000 is required for land preparation that will include ploughing, harrowing and ridging, while the planting of sugarcane will cost Shs1.080 billion, the purchase of seeds to cost Shs6,232,846,050.

Taxpayers will also foot bills for buying herbicides for the investor to a tune of Shs975 million, while manual weeding will cost Shs2,329,950,000, while mechanical weeding will cost Shs270 million and fertiliser purchase will cost Shs2.275 billion.

However, a section of MPs have questioned the motive behind the government’s interest in this particular investor with Ann Maria Nankabirwa (Kyankwanzi Woman) describing the move as discriminatory and tasked NAADs to explain why the money is urgent for it to come to Parliament as a supplementary.

“We are talking of issues of equity and fairness, isn’t this discriminatory? We have gone, treated, we want to give seeds, weeding.. we want to plough for the same people and they are shareholders who will also earn dividends and even harvest for them. If at all that is the scope the whole country is taking elsewhere, I wouldn’t mind,” she said.

Nankabirwa added that if this is the trend that government is taking, it needs to cut across other players in the sugar industry and have an end to discriminatory tendencies.

“We want to understand the urgency of this being in the supplementary budget. Is it useable? Is it something that can’t wait and we study and fix it in the budget because we are already in the process,” said Nankabirwa.

Patrick Isiagi (Kachumbala County) questioned why taxpayers should foot the cost of ploughing, buying seeds for the investor.

“If you are just going to put money for the sake who is that Ugandan who sits there you plough a garden for him until you put fertilizers, you harvest, you sell then money goes to him, who is that lucky Ugandan? Are you not encouraging laziness, then come and do for every Ugandan,” Isiagi said.

The development comes weeks after the government moved to fund a investor seeking to construct a national hospital to a tune of Shs40 trillion.

These matters have raised eyebrows and queries in public over why investors, who by tradition are supposed to be footing own costs to qualify to be called investors, are now being funded by taxpayers when government also throws them incentives like free land allocation.

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