MPs Demand For Comprehensive Report on High Sugar Prices. The State Minister of Trade and Cooperatives, Michael Werikhe faced a torrid time in Parliament today , after legislators questioned him over the high prices of sugar.
Three months ago, the prices of sugar went from about Ugx 3000 to Ugx 8000, which Werikhe told Parliament on today was attributed to prolonged drought for a period stretching over a period of over 9 months, as well as out grower farmers harvesting sugar immaturely.
Werikhe told the House that government had noted with concerns reports that some sugar companies were hoarding sugar, revealing that government will be compelled to take alternative measures against them. He however did not tell the legislators what measures would be taken against the hoarders.
While the minister said that the ministry is ensuring that the retail price of sugar does not exceed Ugx 5000, several legislators rejected this notion, wondering why government had failed to have the prices reduced further yet the market prices range between Ugx 6000 and Ugx 8000.
Kole Woman MP, Judith Alyek started the debate on the price, wondering why the prices of sugar were still high, yet some sugar companies which had closed temporarily to do maintenance works, had reopened.
Alyek said government should compel the companies to reduce the prices to at least Ugx 3000 to cater especially to areas which were hard hit by famine.
She was supported by the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga who wondered why government had not done much to ensure the prices of sugar had gone down.
The MPs were further irked by government’s silence on ongoing sugar wars among companies, which have greatly affected prices as well.
MPs Dorothy Nshaija and Rose Ayaka said government has failed to exhaust issues on infighting in the sugar sector, wondering how drought can be the reason for the prices soaring.
Masindi Woman MP, Jalia Bintu also dismissed government’s justification that prices were hiked due to the harvesting of immature canes. Bintu, who said she is an out grower, said there is more than meets the eye because some of the sugar companies connive with businessmen to hoard sugar and later hike prices.
She warned that if the industry is not well regulated, Ugandans will not see the prices go down and there will be continued impunity from the businessmen.
Nakaseke North MP, Syda Bbumba wondered why all sugar companies scheduled maintenance of their machines at almost the same time. She suggested that government comes up with a more organized schedule that allows the sugar millers to maintain their machines at given times to avoid incidences of shortages.
While the ministry said it will continue monitoring the sugar market situation regarding prices, the legislators, including Oyam Woman MP, Santa Alum, rubbished his statement, noting that the quality of sugar on the market is adulterated and needs to be urgently checked.
Kadaga directed the Minister to present a comprehensive report on a strategic plan by government on reducing sugar prices.
Werikhe promised to present the report, outlining government’s strategy before the House next week.