A section of Members of Parliament have urged President Yoweri Museveni to reconsider his decision and assent to the Sugar Bill, 2016.
In his recent address to NRM MPs attending a retreat at the National Leadership Institute in Kyankwanzi, President Museveni said he will not sign the bill but rather will return it to parliament to rectify some issues in it.
He said that legislators did not consider the interests of the big sugar manufacturers and accused them of having suspicious relationships with the small industries.
One of the areas of contention in the Bill was zoning, which the legislators overwhelmingly voted against. Zoning allows one manufacturer to monopolize sugar cane production in an area. The original bill provided for a radius of 25km between sugar mills.
MPs including the Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry Fred Tumuheirwe Turyamuhweza (Rujumbura County), Maurice Kibalya (Bugabula County) and Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County) have now questioned the President’s continued interest in protecting the interests of the big sugar manufacturers.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday, the MPs said that zoning as proposed by government will only promote monopolistic tendencies which will lead to unfair prices to farmers and curtail out growers.
Tumuheirwe said that in passing the Bill, legislators wanted to avoid monopoly, protectionism and favoritism so that the market forces can play out.
“When we were considering this Bill, we invited all stakeholders in the sugar industry and 78 per cent of those we consulted rejected zoning. We therefore, urge President Museveni to assent to the Bill because it will promote good practices in the sugar industry,” said Tumuheirwe.
Kivumbi said that monopoly of the sugar industry has not improved the livelihoods of the people in the sugarcane growing areas.
“One of the highest illiteracy and poverty rates are found in the neighborhoods of the biggest sugar cane industries. How can you be comfortable when your neighbors are dying of hunger, and the president of the country is okay with it,” said Muwanga Kivumbi.
Parliament passed the Sugar Bill, 2016 on 22 November 2018. The objective of the Bill is to ensure that there is a sustainable, diversified, harmonized, modern and competitive sugar sector to meet domestic, regional and international requirements.
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