By Max Patrico Ocaido
There is now a reason for Ugandan consumers to smile as rampant smuggling has resulted to drastic drop in sugar prices.
According to the minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde, sugar is now trading at Shs2760 per kilo as of yesterday 12th February, 2018.
Whereas this drastic drop in sugar prices has been treated with excitement to consumers, Kyambadde has blamed it to smuggling of duty free sugar from the Republic of Kenya and has vowed to curtail the smuggling vice.
Kyambadde said this while presenting a ministerial statement at parliament on Tuesday to respond to concerns that her ministry had allowed importation of one million tons of free sugar from Kenya.
In her statement, Kyambadde said that her ministry has confirmed with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) that there is no direct importation of duty free sugar and that there is no dumping of sugar in transit in the country.
However, she confirmed that smuggling of sugar is mainly done by Boda bodas through their porous borders and then re-bagged in branded bags of Kakira, Kinyara and Lugazi sugar making it difficult for URA to seize it.
"Madam Speaker, smuggling of duty free sugar has not only hurt the sugar industry but also the out growers of sugarcane whose livelihoods entirely depend on supply of sugarcane to the factories, affected electricity generation, and shall eventually affect other industries that depend on by-products of sugar cane such as distillers of spirits, other beverages, bakeries and animal feed industries," Kyambadde said.
From July to December 2017, URA operations seized over 55MT of illicit sugar. As a result of this cheap sugar in the country, Kyambadde says that sugar millers have stock piled over 50,000 Metric tons of sugar with Kakira Sugar having 13,712MTs, Kinyara Sugar-22,099MTs, SCOUL-Lugazi -8,052, Mayuge Sugar-5,000, GM Sugar-2,000, Kaliro Sugar-1,750.
The minister added that government has now zeroed on undertaking operations to curtail smuggling of sugar across our borders commencing this week. She said government has also agreed to clamp down on illegal jaggeries which are poaching sugarcane especially in Bunyoro where over 20 are currently operating.
Government has also agreed to allow controlled export of sugar to the regional market after it emerged that other neighboring countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania have low sugar shortages.
"Madam Speaker and Honorable Members, to minimize the volatility in the sugar sub-sector, the Ministry is working with this honourable house to improve the Sugar Bill with the view to fast tracking its enactment. When this Bill is enacted and implemented, most of the concerns of the public will be addressed and this will further improve stability in the sugar sector," she said.
Early last year, sugar prices hit a maximum of Shs8,500 per kilo in some parts of the Country. This according to Kyambadde was due to prolonged drought that stretched for a period of 9 months from early 2016, increased regional demand of Uganda's Sugar especially in Kenya and Rwanda and increased cost of sugar cane from Shs85,000 in 2016 to Shs175,000 in 2017.