Sugar Industry Faces Reform with Sugar (Amendment) Bill

sugar industry faces reform with sugar amendment bill
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The Minister of State for Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives (Industry), Hon. David Bahati, introduced the Sugar (Amendment) Bill, 2023 on December 5, 2023, in Parliament, signaling the beginning of a process to regulate Uganda’s sugar industry. The proposed amendment outlines the establishment of the Uganda Sugar Industry Stakeholder Council, slated to replace and assume the responsibilities of the Sugar Board created under the Sugar Act 2020.

The original Sugar Act mandated the creation of the Sugar Board in Section 13. However, the government’s policy on rationalization, which limits the formation of statutory bodies, prevented the Board’s establishment. To address this, the current bill seeks to amend the act, replacing the Sugar Board with a sugar industry stakeholder council funded by a sugar levy imposed on millers.

The proposed composition of the council includes a Chairperson, four representatives each from sugar cane growers and millers, and representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture, Finance, and Trade. It is noteworthy that government representatives will lack voting rights, as outlined in the bill. The government’s role, according to the bill, will primarily involve regulatory oversight through selected council representatives and technical officers at the council’s secretariat.

In addition to restructuring the regulatory body, the bill aims to modify the formula used to determine sugar cane prices for millers, aligning it with international norms. Speaker Anita Among referred the bill to the Committee on Tourism, Trade, and Industry for further consideration.

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This development occurs against the backdrop of the House Committee on Tourism’s ongoing review of a petition by the Uganda Sugar Manufacturers Association. The association questions the licensing of new millers and challenges the legality of these licenses. It was revealed that, despite the absence of the Sugar Board, the Ministry of Trade had licensed five new millers across sugar cane growing areas in the country.

During a meeting with the Committee of Tourism on November 30, 2023, Deputy Attorney General Hon. Jackson Kafuuzi confirmed that licenses issued post the Sugar Act’s enactment are void. The proposed amendment is seen as a corrective measure to address these “erroneous” decisions.

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