Govt tables Sugar Amendment Bill, 2023
The process to regulate Uganda’s sugar industry has commenced with the tabling of the Sugar (Amendment) Bill, 2023 which provides for the Uganda Sugar Industry Stakeholder Council.
The Uganda Sugar Industry Stakeholder Council will replace and take on duties of the Sugar Board created by the Sugar Act 2020, and regulate the sugar industry in the country.
The Sugar (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was tabled for first reading by the Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (Industry), Hon. David Bahati, during plenary sitting, on Tuesday, 05 December 2023.
Section 13 of the Sugar Act established the Sugar Board as the body responsible for implementing the Act. The Board could however not be established because of the Government Policy on rationalization which restricts the establishment of statutory bodies.
The Bill now seeks to amend the Act to establish the sugar industry stakeholder council which would comprise representatives of stakeholders in the sugar industry and be funded by a sugar levy charged on millers.
According to the Bill, the composition of the Council will include; a Chairperson, four representatives of sugar cane growers, four representatives of sugar cane millers, the Permanent Secretaries or representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture, Finance and Trade. Noteworthy is that government representatives will not have voting rights, as stated in the Bill.
“The government will only provide regulatory oversight over the activities of the Council through a few representatives on the Council and technical officers at the secretariat of the Council,” reads the Bill in part.
The Bill further seeks to amend the formula to determine sugar cane price sold to millers in accordance with international norms.
Speaker, Anita Among referred the Bill to the Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry.
The Bill comes at a time when the House Committee on Tourism is considering a petition by the Uganda Sugar Manufacturers Association, who contested the licensing of new millers and the legality of the new licenses.
It emerged that the Ministry of Trade licensed five new millers across the sugar cane growing areas in the country, despite the absence of the Sugar Board.
While interfacing with the Committee of Tourism on 30 November 2023, the Deputy Attorney General, Hon. Jackson Kafuuzi confirmed that all the licenses issued after the enactment of the Sugar Act are void and said that the Amendment would correct such decisions that he described as "erroneous".