President Museveni has come out to defend Italian investor Ms Enrica Pinetti over the controversial agreement between the government and the Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited (UVCC).
On February 10, 2022, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija signed the Shs 284 billion Coffee processing deal with Enrica Pinetti to process and export Uganda’s coffee in Europe and Middle East. The deal attracted criticism from various players in the agricultural sector who described it as a bad deal.
However during his State of the Nation Address today at Kololo independence grounds, Museveni revealed that Pinetti had no idea about coffee but had a wide network of contacts and asked her to look into coffee and she returned with a positive report.
“Pinetti had a big network and I went ahead to consult her and she said it was doable. I am the one who told her about coffee, for her she was into hospitals,” the President said.
“When I met madam Pinetti, the woman you have been attacking, she had no idea about coffee. I asked her to look into coffee and she returned with a positive report.”
Museveni added he is the one who tasked Pinetti to look for potential investors to add value to Ugandan coffee.
“Those attacking the coffee project are supporters of the perpetual bleeding of Africa. I am ready to sit down with those coffee people. If you want to add value, I will support, but if you want to be a slave then I won’t support you,” Museveni said.
“When we roast, grind, and pack our coffee here, Uganda will get more dollars, and we shall also pay higher prices to our farmers,” he added.
According to the agreement, it gave Vinci company exclusive rights to buy and export all of Uganda’s coffee until 2032 and subject to renewal. The agreement also exempted Vinci from paying income tax, pay as you earn, excise duty, and remitting NSSF contributions. The document also provided a 5 per cent subsidy on electricity for the company.
The Finance Ministry was blamed for failure to consult all the stakeholders in the coffee sector and going on to sign on their behalf.
The Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry also commenced investigations into the controversial coffee deal signed between Government and Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited (UVCC).
Chaired by Hon. Mwine Mpaka, the committee interrogated officials from UVCC where they unearthed several irregularities regarding the coffee deal and called for its cancellation.