MIN. Kasaija Snubs Vince Coffee Probe
The parliamentary committee of trade has threatened to charge the minister of finance Matia Kasaija with contempt of parliament after he adamantly snubbed the committee meetings where he is needed to explain the controversial coffee deal between the government of Uganda and Uganda Vinci Coffee Company.
Coffee farmers have petitioned the committee on trade to cancel the agreement which poses an existential threat to local coffee exporting companies.
The parliamentary committee of trade and tourism proceeded with the inquiry into the controversial coffee deal between the government of Uganda and Uganda Vinci Coffee Company. The minister of finance Matia Kasaija who signed the agreement on behalf of parliament made no show in the committee meeting today, after snubbing the same committee yesterday. Now the committee chairperson Mwine Mpaka says they are going to precede the ex-party and charge Kasaija with contempt of parliament.
Committee members fumed to find Kasaija in the parliamentary canteen feasting on chicken, yet the ministry of finance has been making excuses that the minister is too busy to attend committee meetings.
However, Kasaija defended himself, saying he has not received an invitation from the parliamentary committee of trade and tourism.
Kasaija still defended the controversial coffee deal saying it will play a vital role in promoting Uganda’s coffee by enhancing value addition.
Meanwhile, the committee interacted with organizations of coffee farmers and traders including Uganda Coffee Federation, Uganda coffee farmer’s alliance, Bugisu Cooperative Society, Uganda Large-scale Farmers Association, Rwenzori Sustainable Trade Centre limited, and Uganda Quality Coffee Trader and Processors Association. Coffee Famers from different cooperatives have called for the cancellation of the coffee agreement. They protested the deal saying it’s an existential threat to local companies which export and add value to coffee.
Led by prominent coffee farmer Robert Kabushenga, coffee farmers dismissed the Vinci Coffee Company deal, saying the company is just masquerading as a coffee processor only to access Uganda’s premium coffee for export.
They even challenged the legality of the coffee agreement, saying the minister of finance does not have the power to give tax incentives to any company without the approval of parliament.
The committee chairperson Mpaka threatened to wage a raid on Vinci offices to dig up all documents needed to beef up the probe.