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Museveni faults MPs for passing sugar mill law with ‘vested interests’

“The way you are behaving, you are antagonizing our old sugar people and I don’t know the relationship you have with small sugar people," Museveni said. "Some of you have got a suspicious relationship with the small sugar people and now you are sabotaging my plan.”

NATIONAL | President Museveni has said he will send Sugar Act 2016 back to Parliament for consideration because the legislation in its current form “is likely to cripple the sugar sector.”

The president, who was on Friday addressing the ruling NRM party legislators at the National Leadership Institute in Kyankwanzi, said some legislators were pushing for the law to favour new players in the sector against the traditional producers.

“The way you are behaving, you are antagonizing our old sugar people and I don’t know the relationship you have with small sugar people,” Museveni said. “Some of you have got a suspicious relationship with the small sugar people and now you are sabotaging my plan.”

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He called for a more investor-friendly atmosphere that is free of delays and confusion as well as corruption, adding that some legislators of were “confused” and “harbouring personal interests” with new sugar factories.

The president said that he had plans to encourage big sugar producers to produce refined sugar to be used in manufacture of medicines because the sugar produced in Uganda is for tea.

He bemoaned that producers are unable to refine their sugar for pharmaceutical companies, a scenario he blamed on the passing of the Sugar Act by Parliament.

“When I tell Madhvani, he says you are sabotaging me, I am about to close. They aren’t lying even if they are lying, you need to know where your interest lies,” Museveni said.

“Some of you leaders get mixed up like the way you handled sugar Bill, which I am going to send back to you. You are totally confused, when you are managing, you aren’t a priest, it isn’t a church service. The way you passed the sugar Bill, this industry will collapse.”

While tabling the Bill in 2017, Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde said it seeks to provide for the development, regulation and promotion of the sugar industry to ensure that there is a sustainable, diversified, harmonised, modern and competitive sugar sector.

Section 19 (1) provides for the punishment for anyone that establishes a sugar mill, jaggery mill or plant to process any sugar by-products of sugarcane without a valid licence with a fine not exceeding five currency points — which amounts to Shs10 million.

Another proposal that has raised contention is Section 22 of the Bill that calls for zoning of sugar mills with the proposal to bar licensing mills within 25km radius to each other with the Bill proposing a fine of five currency points for offenders.

Although the sugar manufacturers welcomed the development, they asked for changes in the fine, arguing the penalty is small and demanded Parliament to hike the fine to Shs500 million.

However, the proposal was rejected by the Committee on Trade, warning that the move would create a monopoly and instead proposed to have a nucleus operating area of 2,000 hectares and proposed an amendment that a sugar mill or plant has a nucleus estate instead of a zone of 2,000 hectares from a 25km radius.

During his address, the president also called for a more investor-friendly atmosphere and creation of more wealth funds to convert our idle youths to employment opportunities and asked MPs to reduce on their international trips.

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