PARLIAMENT of UGANDA: Members of Parliament have called upon the Ugandan Government to impose a ban on Kenyan goods as the discussion over the ban on Ugandan maize by Kenya gets heated.
In a plenary sitting on Tuesday, the lawmakers referred to Kenya as a bully in the East African region and called for a tit-for-tat response to the “unnecessary” ban on Ugandan and Tanzanian products.
The MPs also tasked the government to explain why Uganda should continue to impress the East African Integration efforts when its neighbours are frustrating the Common Market protocol to which member states are signatories.
On March 5, the Kenyan government through the Agriculture and Food Authority announced a ban on Ugandan and Tanzanian maize over health-related reasons after surveillance, reportedly discovered that they had high levels of mycotoxins “which are consistently beyond safety limits”.
Busia Municipality MP Geofrey Macho said at least more than 5,000,000 people, including farmers and traders, are going to make losses as a result of the ban.
“I pray the Uganda government should, with immediate effect, ban the products from Kenya because they use more chemicals than Uganda. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries should ask the Common East African people why they are disqualifying products of others,” Mr Macho said.
He said Kenya is using excuses of toxins to frustrate the market for its neighbours.
Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu accused Kenya of putting Ugandan farmers, especially those of Busoga Sub-region in “double jeopardy” by making it difficult for the farmers to export their maize and sugarcane yet the market back home is limited.
“How will people of Busoga survive? This is not about quality, it is about protectionism. It looks like Kenya is protecting the interest of their farmers,” he said.
He added: “There is a lot of unfairness in our trade relationship with the government of Kenya. It is better we send a clear signal that it is not a favour but a mutual benefit.”
Mr Gaffa Mbwatekamwa (Kasambya County) asked the government to begin arrangements for pulling out of the EAC integration because it is a ‘’bad marriage”. arguing that Kenya has made it a habit to ban Ugandan products anytime they wish.
When Speaker Kadaga tasked the government to explain what it is doing to resolve the maize crisis, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, the government chief whip, promised to mobilise the Agriculture minister Vincent Ssempijja and his Trade counterpart Amelia Kyambadde to make statements today.
The Speaker gave the government up to this afternoon to present its position on the trade issue.
“This matter is extremely urgent. It concerns the economic rights of our people. This is an issue of foreign policy, an issue of our sovereignty. Let us have an answer tomorrow from the government,” Ms Kadaga ruled.
“Whether they (ministers) are here or not, tomorrow we shall take a decision with our government (because) now it is the maize. What is remaining in the Ugandan market? ” she added.