President Museveni has assured Sugar Corporation of Uganda limited (SCOUL), a subsidiary of the Mehta Group, that part of the 900,000 tonnes of sugar that the company produces which can’t be sold locally will find market in Kenya.
The assurance follows a recent agreement government signed with their counterparts in Kenya. The President said Kenya is expected to act with humility because Uganda imports a lot of goods from the neighbouring country.
“The government (of Uganda) must give more support to these industries we must discuss with Kenya and make sure that it buys this extra sugar,” Mr Museveni said, adding: “They will buy it because we buy a lot from Kenya, there is no way you can say that I buy from you but you don’t buy from me,”.
The president was speaking shortly after commissioning a new sugar mill and a carbon dioxide plant at SCOUL in Lugazi last Friday.
Uganda imports goods worth $700m (about Shs2.4 trillion) from Kenya, compared to exports worth $150m (about Shs530b) to Kenya.
When Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta visited Uganda last month, a deal allowing Uganda to export Ugandan sugar into the Kenyan market was struck, improving the commercial ties between the two countries.
However, Kenyan biggest opposition leader Raila Odinga and other actors have criticised the move, arguing that it will hurt the local sugar industry in Kenya by “flooding the (Kenyan) market with cheap imported sugar.”
Not a big issue
Dr Richard Sezibera, the Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) during a courtesy visit at the Monitor Publications Limited offices in Kampala recently, said sugar shouldn’t be an issue in the region.
Mr Sezibera said the East Africa Legislative Assembly had passed a law that requires a member country subjected to non-tariff barriers by another member state to seek redress.
“Restriction of movement of goods is a creation of a non-tariff barrier to trade and in future. Uganda could seek compensation for that and so can any other EAC country whose goods are blocked from entering another country within the bloc,” the EAC boss said.
On Friday, Mr Museveni also told the management of Mehta Group to discuss with the workers on the issue of their welfare and salaries.
Workers at the factory complained of meagre pay as the President addressed the gathering at the company premises.
“Those issues, you should discuss with the management seriously and frankly and based on facts that, for instance, if the company is making very big profits and it can be shown in the statistics, then you can discuss about the issue of salary increase,” he said.