By Max Patrico Ocaido
Legislators led by Usuk County MP Peter Ogwang will in December present a motion on the floor of parliament over continuous high sugar prices.
While addressing the press on Thursday at his office, Ogwang also parliamentary commissioner has tasked Amelia Kyambadde, the minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives to declare her interests and explain why sugar prices are still very high compared to other neighbouring countries that import sugar from Uganda.
"We have investigated and found out that manufacturers hold sugar to cause scarcity so that they sell it at very exorbitant prices, but the minister is simply looking on. We want her to declare her interests because a responsible minister should be protecting the consumers and not the manufacturers, but she is doing the vice versa," Ogwang said.
"When the House resumes[on December 12th], we are going to present a motion seeking parliament to investigate why these sugar prices have not dropped up to now. Several MPs are in support of this motion," Ogwang said as he showed a copy of the draft motion.
Ogwang was referring to minister Kyambadde's press statement that she released on Wednesday refuting a story that appeared in the Daily Monitor titled, "Cabinet Agrees to cut sugar prices."
In her statement, Kyambadde said that government has not taken a decision to reduce taxes on imported sugar. She added that the sugar prices have steadily reduced from average Shs8,500 in May 2017 to currently Shs4,500 with expectations to reduce even further.
"Sugar millers have sufficient stock of sugar to meet domestic demand currently. In this regard therefore, government cannot import duty free sugar since we have enough stocks and prices are stabilizing steadily," Kyambadde said.
However, Ogwang insists that sugar prices in Uganda are still high and that parliament must investigate the circumstances under which the prices have failed to drop to previous Shs2,500 to Shs3,000.
"A bigger percentage of our population lives below the poverty line and survive on less than a dollar per day, but you want them to buy sugar at Shs4,500. That is ridiculous," he said.
"Uganda supplies sugar to S.Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, Congo and others but incidentally, the prices of sugar in such countries are lower than the price of sugar in Uganda," Ogwang added.
He said that sugar is a basic commodity for household consumption as well as key input in many Small and Medium Enterprises such as confectionaries, juice factories, bakeries on which many people depend on for a living.
"As a measure to protect people from exploitation in high prices due to short supply, government should urgently consider a tax waiver on imported sugar. There is also need for government to scale up interventions and measures that would address the production challenges and capacity of the local manufacturing industries," Ogwang added.