Deputy Attorney General Kafuuzi Assures Independence for Sugar Council Amid Changes.

Deputy Attorney General, Hon. Jackson Kafuuzi, has assured legislators that the envisioned Stakeholder Sugar Council will maintain its independence.

The Sugar Act of 2020 introduces a Sugar Board, which, due to the streamlining of government agencies, will not be operationalized. Initially designed to oversee the sugar industry by accrediting millers, the Sugar Board will be replaced by a Sugar Council, with licensing responsibilities transferred to the Minister of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives, according to Kafuuzi.

He emphasized that this adjustment aims to address concerns about the Council’s autonomy.

“Clause 7 of the Bill outlines one of the Council’s responsibilities as reviewing applications for sugar licensing, production establishment, and expansion, providing justified recommendations to the Minister for license approval or rejection,” stated Kafuuzi during his appearance before the Committee on Tourism, Trade, and Industry on Tuesday, 28 November 2023.

The committee is presently examining a petition filed by the Uganda Sugar Manufacturers Association opposing the licensing of new millers.

Deputy Solicitor General Pius Biribonwoha explained that the Council would comprise sugarcane farmers and millers from all catchment regions. He clarified, “The Council’s activities, including extension services, marketing development, and research and development, will be funded through funds generated from the sugar levy on millers. The government will not allocate funds for the Council’s operations.”

However, Hon. Richard Gafabusa (NRM, Bwamba County) expressed concern about the government’s reluctance to support sugarcane farmers, questioning why the Council is funded by millers rather than from the industry’s substantial revenue.

Gafabusa also raised doubts about the Council’s sustainability, suggesting that it might struggle to fund activities during industry downturns.

“How will the government oversee the Council without direct control? I anticipate more challenges due to reduced government influence,” added Gafabusa.

Legislators also inquired about the legality of licenses issued after the Sugar Board became inactive.

“The Act currently grants licensing authority to the Board, not the Minister, which raises questions about the Minister’s sudden involvement in licensing,” remarked the Committee’s Deputy Chairperson, Hon. Catherine Lamwaka.

Kafuuzi, however, refrained from addressing the legality of the new licenses, deferring to the Ministry of Trade for a more suitable response.

“The Board was not operationalized, leaving a gap. The line Ministry assumes control, which is why I understand the concern that perhaps we should be here with the Ministry of Trade to address these questions more comprehensively,” he explained.

The Committee resolved to meet with the Trade Minister and Attorney General on Thursday, 30 November 2023.