The Prime Minister, Robinah Nabanjja, has said Government through Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) is developing regulations for partnership with former Ethiopia First Lady, Azeb Mesfin Haile, to manage the Soroti Fruit Factory.
She said this in response to Speaker Anita Among’s query on whether the factory had been given out to a private investor, following pervious concerns by Soroti West Division MP Hon. Jonathan Ebwalu, on the matter.
The Speaker raised the concern while chairing the plenary sitting on Thursday, 23 November 2023.
“Soroti Fruit Factory has not been given out. The factory had limitations that can be done away with. UDC has mismanaged this factory but the President said the former first lady of Ethiopia has capacity to help us revamp the factory,” Nabanjja said.
She added that the Attorney General is reviewing the regulations for the partnership and that the Auditor General is carrying out necessary audits.
Hon. Ephraim Biraaro (NRM, Buhweju West County) raised concerns about leaving UDC to manage the partnership with the private investor.
“The Prime Minister has just said that UDC mismanaged the factory but is partnering with a private investor to revamp it. Can we get clarification on this?” Biraaro asked.
Hon. Susan Amero (Ind., Amuria District Woman Representative) asked the Prime Minister to give a report on what has been done as per the recommendations given by the Committee of Trade following its investigation into the mismanagement of Soroti Fruit Factory.
Among the raft of recommendations contained in the Committee report that was presented to the House on Thursday, 03 March 2022, was that the 20 per cent shares in the factory allegedly owned by Teso Tropical Fruits Cooperative Union, be opened up to other farmer cooperatives and unions in Teso sub-region for subscription and acquisition of interest the company.
The Committee also recommended that the IGG investigates the CEO (Ndawula Douglas) and the entire management of the factory for possible inflation of the cost of operations and other related expenditures in financial year 2020/2021.
The Committee also made a recommendation for Government to provide the factory with funds to procure an orange fruit processing line for the processing of oranges which are predominantly grown by farmers in the Teso sub-region.
The Speaker tasked the Premier to present an action taken report on the recommendations that were given in the Committee report.
Nabanjja said the resolutions of the Committee report presented the background for the President’s recommendation.
“I will come with a detailed report that has concrete answers on how far we have gone and where we are in regard to the resolutions of the Committee on Trade and Industry,” said Nabanjja.
Relatedly, Soroti County MP Hon. Patrick Aeku called on the Prime Minister to arrange for spraying of orange fruits in the district which have been attacked by an unknown pest.
“Even when the farmers maintain the trees, the rot continues and even spreads to other trees. I pray that the Ministry of Agriculture fumigates these trees just the way the locusts were sprayed and eradicated,” Aeku said.
The Prime Minister said she would liaise with the MP to provide a technical solution.