Controversial Kabale Cleric Questions Government’s Free Land Policy To Foreign Investors
By Our Reporter.
KABALE — The Outspoken Priest of Kitanga Parish in the Kabale Catholic Diocese Rev. Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda has tasked government to give explanation on the investment policy that apparently gives priority to foreigners at the expense of local investors.
Fr. Gaetano who is also the Chairperson of the Inter- religious Council of Uganda – IRCU Kigezi region made these statements while speaking to journalists during his weekly press conference in Muhanga Town Council, Rukiga District.
His statements comes at a time when Parliament is rejected the controversial Coffee business deal that was handed to Italian investor Enrica Pinetti amidst protests from a section of MPs’ and the general public. In the agreement deal handed to Enrica’s Uganda Vinci Coffee company, government offered 25 acres of land to the investor, to use as mortgage to secure a loan from a commercial bank in order to set up a coffee processing plant in Namanve, Mukono district.
However, the Parliamentary Committee on trade and industry led by Mbarara City North MP Mwiine Mpaka quashed the deal wrote a report about several errors that were made in the agreement between Government and Enrica’s company.
The Committee reportedly attempted reading the report on the floor of parliament, but they were blocked by the speaker and her deputy on advice of President Yoweri Museveni who first wanted to meet the MPs opposed to the deal.
Only Five out of 30 MPs met Museveni, and it is only the Kasambya County MP Gaffa Mbwatekamwa who reportedly talked to the president as he boldly assured the President that the committee’s resolution against the coffee deal was not going to change. Rev. Fr. Gaetano applauded the MPs and asked them to remain bold and incorruptible until the “evil deal” is canceled.
“I thank the MPs led by Hon. Mwiine Mpaka and Mbwatekamwa for standing with Ugandans. Their report is the only hope for Ugandans whose livelihood depends on coffee and it’s products.” he said.
It is on this note that the priest questioned Government’s support of foreign investors and the failure to support Local Business men and women with loans and free land for investment in their own country. “First of all, this woman (Enrica Pinetti) was given billions of money to construct a specialized hospital in Lubowa, Kampala and up to date she has not even started. How comes that now Government is again giving her all these deals and free land ? Aren’t their Ugandans who can be supported to do the same investments?” asked Fr. Gaetano .
Fr. Gaetano also said he was shocked to learn that Government has offered another 640 acres of land to Turkish Businessmen who want to establish an industrial park in Nakasongola district. He also referred to the 10 acres land that was given to businessman Sudhir Ruparelia to construct large stored buildings that currently accommodate offices of Ministers and MPs whose rent is paid by Government.
Fr. Gaetano said he had intelligence that some foreign investors are only disguised agents of top Government officials who fear direct investments for fear of being interrogated on the source of the funds because it is usually out of corruption.
Government has always argued that the incentives given to foreign investors are intended to attract more investors to support industrialization as the main strategy of projecting Uganda to the middle income status and solving the unemployment crisis.