KAMPALA — The calamitous coffee deal between Government of Uganda and Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd has taken a fresh twist after it emerged that the contraversial ‘investor’ Ms. Enrica Pinetti only signed as a witness while the real company owners remain in the shadows.
Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd was recently awarded exclusive rights to buy Uganda’s coffee—sparking a public condemnation. It has turned out the “owner”, Ms. Enrica Pinetti signed the $80m contract that prohibits anybody from buying the country’s coffee harvest until the company gets the quota they want as a witness.
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and Secretary to the Treasury Ramathan Ggobi signed the deal on behalf of government while Pinetti signed as a witness, and the space for the company owner was left blank.
The Finance Ministry said that under the agreement, which also exempts Uganda Vinci from all taxes, the company will create the first final product processing plant in the country worth $80m.
The ministry said the deal is part of the government’s efforts to more than double coffee production to 20 million bags annually by 2030.
However, it has received a lot of backlash with Parliament’s Committee on trade set to probe the deal.
Also, several stakeholders including the Ministry of Agriculture were side-lined as the deal was being brokered.
It should be recalled that Ms Pinetti the same investor is under scrutiny for other sweet government deals.
Government injected Shs667 billion in Pinetti’s project to build the Lubowa International Specialised Hospital.
In the deal, Pinetti promised to construct the hospital in two years, and manage it for six years before the hospital reverts to the government.
But three years later, works on the 32-acre site in Lubowa seem to have stalled. The investor is apparently looking for a contractor to undertake the project.