Opinion: Time to smell the coffee… [Veni, vidi, vici]

The last few days the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) has defended it’s agreements with Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited. This stems from the agreements, addenda’s and whatnot.

This is the same investor that is building the Lubowa Specialized Hospital. When seeing the results of that and lack of progress. The sort of deals and agreements with UVCC is only beneficial for the owners and the ones arranging it in the state.

The coffee-farmers had no say in this and the monopoly of trading beans will possibly destroy the exports of coffee. Especially, when the company has been working on the factory since the investor with a delegation held a meeting at the State House in January 2014. This means it has gone 8 years and little to nothing has been moving. Just like there Hospital that been in the works since 2015. It is not like any of these has seen the lights of day and it isn’t getting any better.

The UVCC is getting tax-holidays and monopoly on coffee beans. Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) should have a say in this and you can wonder why the Minister of Agriculture doesn’t want to have any play in it. That just shows the shoddiness, since one of their own and loyal cadres in Frank Tumwebaze is downplaying his role.

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and Permanent Secretary Ramathan Ggoobi is both busy defending and selling the agreement in concern to UVCC. The company is given 10 years with monopoly and a tax-holiday, which is respectfully a terrible agreement. Especially, when there is no proof of the profitability or even if it is able to trade in this market. Secondly, the company has used years on end without any movements. The last proven change of the plot has been a field investigation in March 2020. Therefore, giving them a ten year monopoly two years later. Make you wonder why? What is so special and unique about UVCC? What leverage does this company has on the paper and makes it reasonable for the state to give away everything to it?

It is like the state owns the UVCC and the Italian investor for something. Even if there is no proof of profits or even able to carry it out. The reason why this can be said, because neither projects is anywhere close lights of day. At least the Soroti Fruit Factory actually exists, even if it is producing for the wrong fruit and isn’t profitable. Neither the hospital or the coffee factory is existing.

The Vinci Company is selling dreams… and the state is catching nightmares. The MoFPED is busy selling stories and fairytales. Since, the coffee processing plant is far from being built. There is no movement and proof of such. Neither is the Hospital getting into a stage of being operational. It is all on paper and agreements made by trading ghosts. The government is giving away a lot to a business, which is not even operational or has the proven ability of trading the commodities on the world market.

That’s why this whole deal is a mess. The naive will believe the numbers and the charts that Ggoobi was shelling out today and yesterday. The coffee market worldwide is huge, but how will a paper-tiger compete with the international companies and the ones that has been up and running for generations? Aha… that he will not answer too. Because, the trade and the business is already in motion. The state has already signed off it’s rights to a non-existent coffee factory and a company, which isn’t operational. That’s why the state has to patch the hurt, but the ones in-charge should smell the coffee, because this will get bitter very soon. Peace.

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