Two lawyers who petitioned the High Court seeking to quash an agreement between the Government and Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited have filed additional evidence to support their case.
In April Henry Byansi and Michael Aboneka challenged the agreement signed by Ramathan Ggoobi, the Secretary to Treasury on behalf of the government, and Enrica Pinetti, an Italian investor and the Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited board chairperson on February 10, 2022, on grounds that it is illegal and irrational.
The lawyers want the court to declare that the actions of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to handpick Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited in disregard of able Ugandan firms to solely manage the coffee business, set coffee prices and related products, is an infringement on the right to own property and open competition as well as economic rights of coffee farmers in the country.
The agreement grants Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited exclusive rights to buy Uganda’s coffee before the government can look at other players.
The Company is also exempted from paying taxes such as Import duty tax, Stamp duty, value-added tax, National Social Security Fund, and Pay as You Earn for ten years. The company also reserves the right to determine the coffee prices in the country on top of enjoying electricity subsidies among other benefits.
In their new evidence, the lawyers submitted to Court a report, findings, and recommendations of the Sectoral Committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry of the Parliament recommending the termination of the agreement under contention.
Last month, Parliament unanimously called for the termination of the agreement because it contravened the Constitution and other tax laws.
The lawyers now want Court to look into the report of Parliament and give their findings a legal effect by going ahead and quashing the agreement.
While delivering the State of the Nation Address on Tuesday, President Museveni admitted that he knew that Ms. Pinetti had no experience in the coffee industry, but that he was convinced that she could get investors to do it after he failed with other known processors around the world.
The case has been fixed for hearing on June 24.
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