Legislators have described the report on the high commodity prices presented by Government as shallow and far detached from reality.
This is after the Government attributed the high prices to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and compared local to regional commodity prices.
In a Plenary sitting chaired by Speaker of Parliament Anita Among, Minister of State for Trade, Harriet Ntabazi presented a statement on skyrocketing prices of essential commodities.
Ntabazi attributed the skyrocketing commodity prices to the Ukraine-Russia war which she said has created a shortage of supply of inputs especially raw materials of some of the goods produced in Uganda.
She noted that notwithstanding the crisis, the fuel prices in Uganda were still lower compared to the neighboring countries like in Kenya where a liter of fuel has gone up to Shs6,800, Tanzania it is at Shs6,000 while in Uganda it is at Shs5,000,
The Minister noted that one of the drivers of commodity prices in the country is the increased demand for palm oil, driven by growing importation by China and India who are the biggest buyers of crude oil.
Ntabazi said this is worsened by the increase of import duty on crude palm oil, a raw material for the production of the commodities. She added that Malaysian crude palm oil production was low due to the shortage of labor arising from the Covid-19 aftermath.
She observed that to address the escalating prices of laundry bar soap, cooking oil, and sugar, the government was planning to expand the production of crude palm oil in Buvuma, Kalangala, Bundibugyo, greater Masaka, and other areas.
Sheema Municipality MP, Dickson Kateshumbwa challenged the Minister to first researched the escalating prices of essential commodities in the East African region, to provide appropriate interventions.
Kateshumbwa wondered why the cooking oil price in Kenya had increased by 33 percent, in Tanzania, 39 percent but in Uganda, by 73 percent. He noted that the statement by the Minister does not give assurance to the House and the Country at Large.
Kampala Central Division MP, Muhammad Nsereko proposed that Government waives taxes for essential commodities as a short-term strategy on the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities.
The Leader of the Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga expressed concerns that the Minister did not address concerns of skyrocketing prices of essential commodities. He demanded that the Minister comes to the House with a clear and practical response to the challenge at hand.
The Speaker directed the Prime Minister to present a comprehensive report with immediate solutions provided.
urged the Minister not to compare Uganda with Kenya and Tanzania, saying that the cost of living in Uganda is different from that of the neighboring countries. She demanded that the minister provides immediate, mid-term, and long-term solutions.
“We want prices reduced and the whole world is waiting. Let us have a better discussion on Thursday,” said Among.