President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni has revealed that Enrica Pinetti, the controversial Italian investor, was clueless about the coffee sector but it was him who encouraged her to take interest in adding value to the cash crop.
Last month, Parliament ordered government to cancel an agreement for value addition that had been signed between Matia Kasaija’s Ministry of Finance, Planning and Development (MoFPED), and Pinetti’s Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited (UVCCL).
Before recommending the cancellation of the agreement, Parliament’s Committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry, whose chairperson is Mbarara City South legislator Mwine Mpaka, had reported that MoFPED flouted the laws of the land, including articles 2, 79 and 152 of the Constitution of Uganda, sections 4 (1), 7(1), 19 and 21 of the Income Tax Act Cap 340, and sections 4 and 5 of the Value Added Tax Act Cap 349.
The Mwine Mpaka Committee also noted that the controversial deal violated Section 4 (1) of the Excise Duty Act, 2014, section 7 of the National Social Security Fund Act Cap 222, sections 54 and 59 of the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Act Cap 66; and section 80 of the Local Government Act Cap 243.
The committee directed government to “terminate this Agreement and report to Parliament, within six months from the date of adoption of this report.” It further recommended that upon termination, the Museveni Government should regularize its relationship with UVCCL through “proper due diligence, due process and proper stakeholder consultation before any further business can proceed.”
Mpaka and his committee also urged government to offer the funds and other incentives that Pinetti and UVCCL was to enjoy to local coffee companies, about 47 in number, so that these can lead value addition efforts.
While delivering his 2022 state of the nation address, President Museveni confessed that Pinetti had no experience in coffee value addition. The head-of-state and government further revealed that he encouraged the Italian investor to consider injecting her cash into coffee because she had vital contacts.
“When I met Madame Pinetti, she had no idea about coffee. I, however, could see that she had a wide network of contacts. I asked her to look into coffee. After sometime, she came back with a positive report that it was doable,” said Museveni.
This confession just points to the fact that Museveni is the powerful hand behind Pinetti, the ‘clueless’ coffee investor who signed a lucrative deal that would significantly change Uganda’s coffee sector.
Besides her lack of experience in the coffee sector, Pinetti has been struggling to deliver the Shs1.3tn Lubowa Specialized Hospital.