Former Manager for Uganda Coffee Marketing Board, Ambassador Wasswa Birigwa has trashed the controversial coffee deal between Ministry of Finance and Uganda Vinci Coffee Company (UVCC).
Ambassador Birigwa was Uganda’s former ambassador to Ethiopia and Japan and was also one a former Chief Executive and founder of Celtel Uganda.
In an interview with theGrapevine, Ambassador Birigwa said that Government should involve stakeholders in the signing of the coffee deal and if the intention is to establish a manufacturing facility to add value on coffee, then Ugandans should be given a chance.
“Involve stakeholders, sit down (with them), and if the intention is to establish a manufacturing facility for value addition to our coffee, everyone supports it, but involve Ugandans,” he said.
Mr. Birigwa told theGrapevine that he got a copy of the coffee deal but after reading through it, he concluded that the intentions of the deal are not good.
He advised government to cancel the deal, go back to the drawing board and make sure they involve all stakeholders from the onset.
“I think it is a non-starter because you cannot really force the farmers to sell their coffee to one particular person. At the end of the day, that person will set a price (which might be low) and the farmer will look for a better price that he cannot get,” he explained.
He further disclosed that such a deal if left unchallenged will result into a monopoly.
Once people realise that they cannot get the right price from the monopoly, they will look for alternative ways and at the end of the day, government will not have the revenue that they projected.
Mr. Birigwa disclosed, “Coffee is not an easy thing, so if Uganda’s intention is to have value addition to its coffee, then there are many people who are capable within Uganda who can even join hands with the government and establish a factory that produces red coffee.
“To have good coffee, you need to be very careful with (the kind of coffee you are choosing) and how you mix it. Coffee is not simply one cup of robusta. Coffee is made up of several things. And so, Ugandans should be working in terms of what is the brand, what is so special about Ugandan coffee and once we have that branded correctly, then we can be able to sell it internationally.
“But the amount of money Uganda is giving to whoever is going to start this thing, the tax incentives that were given to UVCC are so ridiculous. Give it to Ugandans.”
“This is a nation that has been independent for 60 years, you mean all these years we don’t have Ugandans who can do this?” he asked.
He furthermore divulged that if at all they had consulted major stakeholders in the industry, they should never have made such a huge mistake of signing the current questionable deal.
He stressed that at the end of the day, the coffee deal will seem as though it is targeting Buganda and Eastern Bugisu because majority of the people who grow coffee happen to be in Buganda and Eastern Bugisu.
“Until they convince stakeholders to be part of it, and find a better way of going into a joint venture of some sort by involving Ugandans, it is a bad deal and government should re-value it.”
Whereas several questions have been raised about the foreign investor behind the Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd, Mr. Birigwa told theGrapevine that she is a businesswoman who is looking for profit and taking advantage of people who are gullible.
“That is how business is. She is not here for charity. She saw people who are gullible and decided to take advantage of them,” he said.
DETAILS IN THE COFFEE DEAL.
It should be recalled that the suspected “owner”, an Italian investor, Ms. Enrica Pinetti signed the multibillion contract as a witness as the owner.
The deal signed between the Finance Ministry and UVCC in February prohibits other investors from buying the country’s harvest until the company gets the quota they want.
According to the February 2022 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the agreement was signed by Finance Minister Matia Kasaija on behalf of government, in the presence of Ramathan Ggoobi, the Permanent Secretary of the Finance Ministry and Pinetti while the space for the company owner was left blank.
The MOU further revealed that UVCC is a limited liability company that is fully registered with its office located at Plot 2, Summit View, Kololo in Kampala and the coffee processing facility is expected to have a capacity of 60,000-tonne per annum.
While the government is undertaking the role to inject money in the deal to its end in 2032, the company will have exclusive rights to buy all of Uganda’s coffee and will be exempted from paying taxes among which include; income tax, pay As You Earn, Excise Duty, Stamp Duty, VAT, Import Duty, and corporate income tax.
By: Hope Kalamira
This Is The Best System In The World – Minister Mayanja Applauds Uganda’s Land Information System, Here Is How You Can Use It In Land Transactions…
State Minister for Lands, Hon. Sam Mayanja has applauded the new land information system as the best system in the world.
In March this year, the Ministry of Lands, Housing & Urban Development launched the digital National Land Information System (NLIS) to provide citizens in Uganda and the diaspora with instant information in their land dealings.
While launching the portal, senior lands minister Judith Nabakooba disclosed that, “The users shall be required to register in a very simple and automatic way. The searches performed for registered users shall allow for fast access to accurate information on the ownership, encumbrances and location of land.”
The National Land Information System Portal provides instant results on the status of land transactions and verification upon payment of a search fee of UGX 10,000 per search.
This Public Portal is designed to provide instant information to citizens in their dealings in land. It contains a complete description of all the applications that can be submitted at the Land Registry, the exact locations of the 22 MZOs in Uganda, and other important cadastral information.
This week, while inspecting the progress of the system, minister Mayanja said that all countries in Africa are monitoring this system because it is the best in the whole world, “that is why every time delegations are coming into the country to study it.
“President Museveni backs it 100%. Even as I speak, World Bank is around, Kenya is also sending people.”
He also stressed that being that it is the first system of its kind in Africa, they have to maintain it and ensure that all backups are done.
He asserted that the system is run by a team of dedicated, learned youthful Ugandans who work tirelessly to make sure that land problems and queries are handled instantly without any delays.
The Public Portal of the National Land Information System (NLIS) provides users with services to access information on Titles and Parcels included in the NLIS Databases.
It also allows to track the progress of land transactions submitted to the Land Registry.
HOW DO YOU USE IT
To conduct a Title search, you must enter the details of the title the volume and folio numbers or the county, block and plot numbers as the system will indicate depending on the land.
To conduct a Parcel search, you must enter the details of the plot which will include the county or municipality or the town council; and block or road and plot number where the parcel is located.
To search the status of a transaction, you must enter the transaction number included in the receipt provided after submission of documents to the MZO
The searches in the Public Portal require the payment of UGX 10,000 for each search. Registered users can credit their account with search fees paid to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). A scanned copy of the receipt and the Payment Receipt Number (PRN) will be used to upload the payments.
In case of any challenges, the Ministry put a Call Centre where they respond to anyone for further support or clarification. The toll-free number is 0800100004.
By Kalamira Hope
OPINION: Lessons We Should Learn So That Our Oil Does Not Turn Into A Curse – Unwanted Catastrophes In Uganda’s Oil Sector…
Uganda’s oil may be a curse in future and this analogy is developed based on evidences from other producing countries across the globe.
I dedicate this article to my Mentor and a good friend Mr. Byaruhanga Robert for his genuine support and rare found generosity and maximum respect to him because of his factual deep analysis and wide knowledge on the oil industry.
First of all, as you are reading this article, keep memorizing this phase, “if it has happened elsewhere then it can happen here in Uganda”.
Let us start with Venezuela as one of the classic examples that we need to look at.
In the world of oil, Venezuela rose from rags to riches.
Oil revenues for forty years enabled Venezuela to evolve from one of the most impoverished nations in the world to one of the wealthiest in Latin America.
All of the country’s vital sectors improved; health care, education, employment, longevity, and Infant survival rates.
Businesses prospered and the international banks flooded the country with loans that paid for vast infrastructure and industrial projects and for the highest skyscrapers.
Then, oil prices crashed, and Venezuela could not repay its debts, the IMF imposed harsh austerity measures and pressured Caracas to support the corporatocracy in many other ways.
President Museveni is very firm about having a refinery in Uganda but some saboteurs have shamelessly indicated that it is not commercially viable to invest in the refinery.
Yet in 2009, the government of Uganda contracted Foster Wheeler Energy Limited from united Kingdom to carry out a feasibility study on the development of a refinery in Uganda and the study confirmed the economic viability of refining petroleum in the country, and the recommendations were adopted in 2011 and a 60000 barrel per day refinery was to be located at Kabale in Buseruka subcounty, in Hoima District.
The East African Crude Oil Pipeline construction budget for 1445 kilometers is 3.5 billion US dollars and the pipeline is planned to have a capacity of 216,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
Tanzania will earn $12.7 of each barrel of oil transported through it and more than 2000 expatriates are expected in the country to work in oil and gas sector.
It is a big shame that some of the planners of this country are fighting this venture.
Uganda discovered oil way back in 1925 through a government Geologist Wayland who proved that it was commercially viable in 2006.
The state should have invested heavily in these golden opportunities for its citizens, but it’s ridiculous that we changed the narrative from a refinery to the construction of a pipeline.
I’m also wondering why the agreements are confidential and are kept secret.
I heard some cases of irregularities in the compensation process where the original land owners were under-evaluated and others were forcefully evicted from their land.
There is fear that these will result into serious resentments and conflicts in future from the natives.
Allow me to cite another good example from Nigeria; Nigeria is a West African country and discovered her oil in 1956, exportation of oil began in 1958. Nigeria happens to be the tenth recognized oil exporting country in the world.
The oil and gas industry contributes 95% of export earnings and 40% of Nigeria’s total revenue. The oil economy in Nigeria is very important to the country, but the people of Nigeria still suffer from a corrupt government.
People in Niger Delta are living in absolute poverty, the environment is devastated and extremely destroyed, illegal oil refineries are run on a large scale, government projects are sabotaged, oil pipe lines are destroyed every day, many militant groups are emerging, there are oil spills in water bodies regularly.
This really makes me worried for my dear country Uganda because these incidents are highly expected to happen here.
I was shocked that some big ministers were involved in corruption scandals during the signing of agreements. Unfortunately, these multibillion oil companies care only about making profits.
On this issue also, allow me to cite another incident in Nigeria; Shell failed to clean up and court ordered it to compensate the affected people but up to now, no compensation has been done.
Conflicts arose in 1990 between foreign oil companies and a number of Niger delta ethnic groups who felt they were being exploited particularly the Ogoni and the Ijaw, and these groups started sabotaging the developments including destroying pipelines.
Eventually, shell was forced to vacate the land.
These misunderstandings between oil companies and the natives started from land troubles. The oil companies then decided to employ foreign experts, leaving more local Nigerians unemployed.
There has not been significant impact of crude oil production in improving environmental conditions for Nigerians. This implies that while oil companies have profited immensely from Nigeria’s oil wealth, in the over 45 years of exploitation, local communities in the oil rich areas still live in poverty and with daily pollution caused by non-stop gas flaring.
If Shell had invested and empowered the locals, it would not have experienced such a big sabotage, this should be an eye opener to Uganda.
I have been listening to President Museveni on the issue of oil and he has consistently encouraged citizens to focus majorly on agriculture and other sectors because he understands the severe effects of Dutch disease that may result from not paying maximum attention to oil sector.
Look at this other scenario, Texaco discovered petroleum in Ecuador’s Amazon region and a trans-Andean pipeline was built, then shortly, over a half million barrels of oil leaked into the fragile rain forest.
During this same period, the indigenous cultures began fighting back. For instance, on May 7, 2003, a group of American lawyers representing more than thirty thousand indigenous Ecuadorian people filed a $1 billion lawsuit against ChevronTexaco Corp.
The suit asserts that between 1971 and 1992, the oil giant dumped into open holes and rivers over four million gallons per day of toxic Waste water contaminated with oil, heavy metals, and carcinogens, and that the company left behind nearly 350 uncovered waste pits that continue to kill both people and animals.
Ecuador is in far worse shape today than she was before they introduced her to the miracles of modern economics, banking, and engineering.
Since 1970, during that period known euphemistically as the Oil Boom, the official poverty level grew from 50% to 70%, unemployment increased from 15 to 70%, and public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion.
Meanwhile, the share of national resources allocated to the poorest segments of the population declined from 20% to 6%
Surprisingly Ecuador is in too much foreign debt and must devote an inordinate share of its national budget to paying this off, instead of using its capital to help the millions of its citizens and those officially classified as dangerously impoverished.
The only way Ecuador can buy down its foreign obligations is by selling its rain forests to the oil companies.
NOW, my biggest worry is on Uganda’s debt. I vehemently believe that we are already trapped, and as an analyst, allow me to make predictions on Uganda’s oil revenue allocations; approximately 75% will be taken by oil companies and the remaining 25%, three-quarters must go to paying off the Foreign debt.
Most of the remainder will covers military and other government expenses which will leave about 2.5% for health, education and less than 3% will go to the people who need the money most.
My mentor, Mr. Robert told me that opportunity goes to those who are prepared.
We must position ourselves for these opportunities. Oil and gas sector is big with numerous opportunities, let us tap into them.
Composed by Eng. Godfrey Mbagira a social activist and a political analyst, founder of GOAM Youth voice Uganda.
For God and My Country
More Tears For Bitature: Court Allows Money Lender To Sell His Properties….
Embattled city tycoon Patrick Bitature is in more trouble after the High Court Commercial Division dismissed with costs his application to save his multibillion properties over $10m debt.
In his ruling, Justice Stephen Mubiru insisted that there were no serious questions of law and facts to be tried by his court to justify Bitature’s application through his lawyers led by Fred Muwema to grant a temporary injunction stopping the sell of the contested properties.
In his ruling, which Vantage Capital will receive with open hands, Justice Mubiru said, “On the basis of all the foregoing considerations. I found that this application and the underlying suit were entirely misconceived on account of the fact that they were instituted against agents of a known principle and on ground that the matters placed in the issue in the suit are already the subject of a subsisting arbitral process.
“This Court had on two occasions before already declared that it will not exercise jurisdiction over the matter in light of the submission to arbitration that is valid, binding, operative and enforceable. I found it necessary in the circumstances to consider the rest of the criteria for the grant of a temporary injunction.”
In his application, Bitature wanted a temporary injunction stopping Robert Kirunda, Noah Shamah Wasige partners at M/S Kirunda and Wasige Advocates, Festus Kateregga, a reknown city court bailiff practicing with M/S Quick Way Auctioneers, Court Bailiffs and Commissioner land registration, who is responsible is supervising and ensuring the proper custody and updating the national land register and certificate of land titles, from selling his multi-billion shillings properties.
In his application, Bitature accused the defendants of illegally, trying to sell his properties by public auction, through newspaper adverts on 18th of May 2022, acting on the instructions of M/S Vantage Mezzanine Fund 11 Partnership.
He insisted through his Simba Properties Investment Company Limited and Simba Telecom Limited that Vintage agents wanted to illegally sell by auction; Elizabeth Apartments at Kololo Kampala, Protea Hotel at Naguru Kampala, Sky Hotels at Kampala, Moyo Close Apartments and Kololo Gardens claiming that they were demanding him over $32m.
Muwema told Court that Vantage cannot issue a notice of sale when there is a pending arbitration in London. He added that it was declared by the High Court Civil Division that Vantage lacked locus and presence capacity to demand the said money because they did not comply with the mandatory requirements of registration under section 4 of The Partnership Act.
He pleaded asked court to declare that Vantage agents acted illegally and also penalise them with a custodial sentence or fine them.
However, in their defense, the respondents insisted that Bitature cannot sue a recognised agent that is executing the powers given to them yet he knows them very well because they have participated in all the mortgage agreements which the judge agreed with.
Justice Mubiru revealed that he was not convinced by the submissions from Bitature’s lawyers that he has high chances of winning the matter before the arbitration in London.
Justice Mubiru noted, “The purpose of granting an interim measure of protection is the preservation of the parties’ legal rights pending the arbitration. The court doesn’t determine the legal rights that are the subject of the arbitration but merely preserves the status quo until the parties’ respective rights can be established or declared by the arbitrator.”
“In the result, I found that a prima facie case had not been established. There were no serious questions of law and fact to be tried by this court to justify the grant of a temporary injunction. The application was thus dismissed with costs to the respondents and the underlying suit was struck out with costs to the defendants,” Justice Mubiru ruled.
By Sengooba Alirabaki
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