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    Sugarcane Growers Petition Kadaga Over Tax On Agricultural Products 

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    Sugarcane growers across the country have rejected the decision by Government to amend the Income Tax Act and impose a 1% tax on all agricultural produce.

    The group petitioned Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, saying the newly introduced withholding tax on their sales is likely to drive higher the sugar prices. It should be remembered that Parliament passed into law the 1% tax on all agricultural produce which legislation came into effect on 1st July, 2018.

    Under their umbrella body, the Uganda National Association of Sugarcane Growers, the team called for the exemption from this tax arguing that Sugarcane growing is a risky venture that is susceptible to extreme weather and the decision by Government is likely to impoverish the growers.

    While presenting his petition, Isan Budugo, the lead petitioner lashed out at the Finance Committee of Parliament that handled the Bill for not consulting them, saying if left in place, the tax proposal would lead to adverse effects in the industry.

    He explained, “the aim of exempting farmers from this will not only reduce the general cost of production but also reduce prices of sugar that we consume. Surgarcane is a political crop because of the number of people involved.”

    According to their petition, the cost of growing and delivering a metric ton of sugarcane ranges to any factory is Shs130,000 minimum price and that to survive, farmers need to be paid Shs175,000.

    Budugo added that at the moment, the small-scale farmers produce 90% of sugarcane while sugar companies only produce 10%, with Government set to earn over Shs600Bn annually from the industry, despite not investing in the sector.

    “The industry has faced many challenges including low prices due to lack of order. This has made it very difficult for us to move forward. We have been negotiating with millers to increase the prices for the whole of last year but millers are not interested in increasing the prices. Kakira dropped the sugarcan price from Shs175,000 to Shs128,000.  SCOUL, Kamuli, Mayuge are giving Shs130,000 per ton and Kinyara Shs100,000,” Budugo said.

    The Sugarcane growers also called on Parliament to expedite the Sugar Bill, 2016 whose passing into law hit a snug over allegations of bribery at the Tourism and Trade Committee of Parliament that was scrutunising the Bill.

    While introducing the Bill before the Committee last year, Amelia Kyambadde, Minister of Trade highlighted that the main objective of the Bill is to ensure that there is sustainable, diversified, harmonised, modern and competitive sugar sector to meet domestic, regional and international sugar requirements.

    Although the Sugarcane growers welcomed the Bill, they protested some clauses of the Bill they argued placed more powers in the hands of millers at the expense of the out growers arguing that this would open flood gates of their exploitation.

    Section 22 of the Sugar Bill calls for zoning of sugar mills and if passed into law, it would be illegal for the Sugar Board to license Sugar mills within 25Km radius to each other.

    The Bill proposes a fine of five currency points (approximately Shs10m) for anyone that sets up their mills within the 25Km radius. Speaking after receiving the petition, Kadagastressed the need for an Agricultural Bank to extend affordable loans to the farmers arguing that funding from commercial banks is too expensive for the farmers and vowed to convene a joint meeting between farmers and sector ministers mainly Trade, Agriculture and Finance on the matter.

     

    By Stella Mugoya

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    Angels Of Death Strike, Take Two Of Uganda’s VIPs In 2023 Opener

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    Two of Uganda’s Very Important Persons have Monday died.

    National Unity Platform’s parliamentary flag bearer in the last year’s Omoro County by-elections, Simon Toolit Aketcha is dead.

    Toolit, died on Monday morning.

    The news of his death was confirmed by Omoro county MP Andrew Ojok Oulanyah.

    “It is a dark day in Omoro! We have lost one of our gallant sons and former MP, Hon. Simon Toolit Akecha! Hon. Toolit was the MP for Omoro County between 2006 & 2011 and was a candidate in recent by-elections. May his soul rest in eternal peace!” OJok tweeted.

    Toolit put up stiff political resistance against the late Jacob Oulanyah before also competing against his son Andrew Ojok Oulanyah.

    Toolit will be remembered as a candidate to have competed against the Oulanyah’s while holding the flag for two different parties for under ten years.

    In 2016, Toolit, then a candidate of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) contested against NRM’s Jacob Oulanyah and polled 6,823 votes against the latter’s 8,218 votes.

    In the same manner, Uganda’s high commissioner to Kenya and Seychelles, Dr Hassan Galiwango, has died.

    Galiwango died Monday morning at Nairobi Hospital where he had been admitted.

    The late was the husband to Mbale City Woman Member of Parliament, Connie Nakayeze Galiwango.

    President Museveni appointed Galiwango as the high commissioner to Kenya in October 2020.

    Galiwango was also the former long serving director of finance and administration at the NRM secretariat at the time of his ambassadorial appointment. Ms Medina Naham, the NRM party chairperson of Koboko District, replaced him at the secretariat.

    The cause of his death is yet to be communicated by the government.

    Last year, Bank of Uganda governor prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah and Gen. Elly Tumwine among other VIPs died.

     

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    Five Dead As Bomb Goes Off In Church Near DRC, Uganda Border 

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    A bomb killed at least five people on Sunday after detonating in a church in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the army said.

    Details of the attack remain hazy, but military spokesman Antony Mualushayi said the “terrorist act” happened in a Pentecostal church in North Kivu province’s Kasindi, a town on the border with Uganda.

    Mualushayi later told reporters that at least five bodies had been taken to the morgue following the blast, in what he called a provisional death toll.

    Joel Kitausa, a local civil society figure, put the death toll at eight and said 27 other people had been wounded.

    AFP was unable to independently confirm the toll.

    It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack. Mualushayi said that one suspect — a Kenyan — had been arrested.

    The DRC’s communications ministry said on social media that the attack was apparently carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) group.

    The ADF — which the Islamic State group claims as its affiliate in Central Africa — is active in the Kasindi area.

    It has been accused of slaughtering thousands of Congolese civilians and carrying out bomb attacks in Uganda.

    The ADF has planted bombs in towns in North Kivu in the past.

    Since 2021 a joint Congolese-Ugandan military operation has been targeting the ADF in North Kivu and neighbouring Ituri province.

    Over 120 armed groups roam mineral-rich eastern DRC, many of which are the legacy of regional wars that flared at the turn of the 21st century.

    Source: AFP

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    Nepal Crash: Dozens Killed As Plane Crashes Near Pokhara Airport

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    Dozens of people have been killed after a plane with 72 people on board crashed near an airport in central Nepal.

    The Yeti Airlines flight from Kathmandu to the tourist town of Pokhara crashed on landing before catching fire.

    Videos posted on social media show an aircraft flying low over a populated area before banking sharply.

    At least 68 people are confirmed to have died, officials said. Several critically injured survivors were taken to hospital, unconfirmed reports said.

    Local resident Deeveta Kal told the BBC how she rushed to the crash site after seeing the aircraft plunge from the sky shortly after 11:00am local time (05:15 GMT).

    “By the time I was there the crash site was already crowded. There was huge smoke coming from the flames of the plane. And then helicopters came over in no time,” she said.

    “The pilot tried his best to not hit civilisation or any home,” Deevta Kal added. “There was a small space right beside the Seti River and the flight hit the ground in that small space.”

    The flight set out with 68 passengers on board, including at least 15 foreign nationals, and four crew members.

    According to flight tracking website Flightradar24, the 15-year-old twin-engine ATR 72 stopped transmitting position data at 05:05 GMT and the last signal from the aircraft was received at 05:12.

    Hundreds of Nepalese soldiers were involved in the operation at the crash site in the gorge of the Seti, just one and a half kilometres from the airport.

    The search operation has been suspended for the day, officials say.

    Video taken where the plane came down showed thick billowing black smoke and burning debris.

    “We expect to recover more bodies,” an army spokesman told Reuters, saying the plane “has broken into pieces”.

    Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal called an emergency meeting of his cabinet and urged state agencies to work on rescue operations. A panel to investigate the cause of the crash has been set up.

    Of the passengers, 53 are said to be Nepalese. There were five Indian, four Russians and two Koreans on the plane. There was also one passenger each from Ireland, Australia, Argentina and France among others.

    Aviation accidents are not uncommon in Nepal, often due to its remote runways and sudden weather changes that can make for hazardous conditions.

    A Tara Air plane crashed in May 2022 in the northern Nepalese district of Mustang, killing 22 people.

    In early 2018, 51 people were killed when a US-Bangla flight travelling from Dhaka in Bangladesh caught fire as it landed in Kathmandu.

    The European Union has banned Nepalese airlines from its airspace over concerns about training and maintenance standards in the country’s aviation industry.

    Source: BBC

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