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Museveni summons NRM MPs ahead of make or break debate on Sugar Bill

President and also NRM national Chairman, Museveni has summoned National Resistance Movement (NRM) parliamentary caucus in a bid to convince them to pass the Sugar Bill. (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA – President Museveni has summoned the National Resistance Movement (NRM) parliamentary caucus in a bid to convince them to pass the Sugar Bill.

Last Friday, Parliament deferred to Tuesday debate on the controversial Bill after President Museveni returned it to the House after rejecting some of the clauses in it.

And now this website has learnt that the President will meet the MPs at the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday as he bids to sell them his ideas in the Bill.

Sources at Parliament and State House on Monday evening intimated to this newspaper that Mr Museveni is not happy that some ruling party MPs have opposed his views, especially the introduction of zoning of sugarcane millers.

In line with Mr Museveni’s proposal, Parliament’s Trade and Tourism committee on Friday recommended that small scale sugarcane factors should not be established within 25km radius of a big manufacturer. However, this was opposed by many MPs, especially those from Bunyoro and Busoga, where key sugarcane factories are located.

Some committee members led by Ms Mary Kabanda wrote a minority report, saying that it will be disastrous to relocate established millers.

“Any attempt to relocate established millers, which are currently within 25km radius, will certainly be a disaster to the national economy and image, especially in this era of liberalisation. It will equally erode investor confidence if the already licensed investors cannot be protected by the very government that licensed their operations,” the minority report reads in part.

Sensing that the Bill would not pass on Friday, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah postponed the debate to Tuesday, ostensibly allowing Museveni time to convince the MPs.

Sugarcane farmers under the Uganda Sugarcane Growers’ Associations last week petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, demanding that the Sugar Bill 2016 be shelved until they are consulted.

The farmers say the zoning only favours the big processors or investors in the sugar industry who grow their own sugar cane.

“Zoning through Government Imposed-Monopolies is an outdated 15th – 18th-century Mercantile thinking that believes in wealth accumulation by rent-seeking behaviours i.e., in this case farmers’ land (private property) is grabbed/colonised for production for a particular mill,” the petition reads in part.

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