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MPs punch holes into trade ministry report

KAMPALA, April 11, 2024– Members of the Committee on Public Service and Local Government have punched holes into a report from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives.

Chaired by Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the committee had convened to review the report on the situation analysis of the Community Agricultural Infrastructure Improvement Programme [CAIIP] on Tuesday, April 9, 2024, with representatives from the trade ministry and the Uganda Cooperative Alliance in attendance.

Eng. Julius Bataringaya, from the ministry, addressed the committee, highlighting a significant challenge hindering the effectiveness of the CAIIP Agro Processing Facilities [APFs] nationwide.

He revealed that a staggering 37 percent of non-operational APFs suffer from machinery breakdowns due to poor maintenance practices.

Out of the 251 projects visited, Bataringaya stated that only 124 are operational, while 126 are not, including maize, rice, coffee, milk, and cocoa projects.

He attributed the non-functionality of the agro-processing facilities to poor management, citing 22 projects. Additionally, he mentioned that 22 projects were abandoned by their operators, 12 agro-processing units were not installed, and 11 facilities faced inadequate raw materials for value addition.

“Machinery breakdown resulting from poor maintenance of broken and dismantled machines, for example, worn-out machine components and faulty generators, accounts for 47 cases,” Bataringaya said.

However, MPs challenged Bataringaya on the status of some projects, as some he presented as operational were defunct.

Budaka County legislator Arthur Waako noted discrepancies in the report, citing the case of the Budaka milk cooler, which officials labelled as operational, but is no longer in existence.

“Is this a field report or a desk report? You could be presenting unsubstantiated information, making us believe you conducted thorough assessments, when in reality, you merely extracted details from the Ministry of Local Government,” he asked.

On his part, the Bulamogi County MP, Sanon Bwiire highlighted inaccuracies in the report, mentioning that several projects mentioned were not on the ground. He cited an example from Namwiwa in Bulamogi, where the report indicated the need for repair, but the machine was absent.

“Can you first go on ground and establish facts before you bring to Parliament this desk report, because what is on ground is different from the spiced report?” Bwiire asked.

Delegated committee chairperson, Stephen Mugole who is the, Kabweri County MP raised concern over the misinformation presented by the ministry officials, urging them to conduct thorough assessments on-site before presenting data.

Bataringaya, however, defended the data, stating they had conducted field visits, but admitted he could not vouch for information from all districts as he had not visited them personally.

MP Agnes Kunihira, the Workers’ Representative, advised the officer to address the committee’s concerns and revisit the field to avoid potential misrepresentation. She emphasised the importance of using accurate information to inform decision-making processes.

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