JINJA. A section of MPs from Busoga Sub-region have expressed their frustration at the Sugar Bill, saying it is discriminative.
The Bill was reintroduced on the floor of Parliament last month following its rejection by President Museveni on grounds that “it did not address the concerns of big manufacturers.”
He asked Parliament to reconsider and provide zoning of sugarcane growing and production.
In the Bill, government had proposed zoning of a 25-kilometre radius between mills, with not more than one mill in the zone.
In separate phone interviews on Tuesday, some legislators called for amendment of some of the clauses in the Bill.
Jinja Municipality MP Paul Mwiru (FDC) said any effort to regulate the sugar industry must be intended to regulate, not distort the sector.
“When you talk about the big players, you realise that outgrowers are the big stakeholders controlling almost 1.2 million tonnes of cane, Kakira Sugar Factory 400,000 tonnes and others none,” Mr Mwiru said.
“I don’t downplay the importance of the big-player in the sector because they contribute more than Shs300b but government must strike a balance between the big companies’ interests and those of the outgrowers,’’ he added.
Mr Robert Musoke ( Budiope West, NRM), said the zoning policy should be scrapped because Uganda is a liberalised economy.
“Zoning creates a monopoly for one miller which infringes on the rights of the (sugarcane) outgrowers,’’ Mr Musoke said.
Mr Moses Walyomu ( Kagoma, NRM) said before the establishment of small factories, prices of sugarcane were as low as Shs26,000 compared to the current Shs128,000, warning that zoning will also affect employment opportunities in the industry in the region.
Mr James Waira Kyewalabye Majegere (Bunya East, NRM) said zoning should not be reinstated in the Bill because it will affect many Ugandans who are earning from the factories that are likely to be relocated.
“If Mayuge Sugar Factory is relocated, it will affect the income of those directly and indirectly benefiting from it. The only thing they can do is not to allow a new factory in the area, which is already congested,’’ he said.
Mr Majegere said government should also allow free movement of sugarcane so that farmers can have unlimited access and market for their products.
Mr Moses Kizige (Bugabula North NRM), the State minister for Karamoja Affairs, said the NRM Caucus has already taken a position on the Bill which he did not divulge.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, also the Kamuli Woman MP, urged all legislators from sugarcane-growing areas to take a stand and not to betray their voters’ interests by acting like “mafias.”
Last month, Parliament granted one month to government for consultations following a request from its Chief Whip, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa.
Busoga Sub-region has five sugar factories, including Kakira Sugar Works in Jinja, Mayuge Sugar Factory, GM Sugar in Buikwe District, Kamuli Sugar Limited in Kamuli District and Kaliro Sugar Limited in Kaliro District. According to a report of the Committee of Trade, Tourism and Industry on the Sugar Bill, since government had already licensed millers, it would cost Shs50b to relocate the factories outside the 25-kilometre radius.
This cost would cover civil works, dismantling and re-erecting, transportation and commission.
Sugarcane farmers are opposed to zoning on account that it will make them lose market for their sugarcane since there will not be competition for the canes.