Uganda Revenue Authority, a government revenue collection agency operating under the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, has revealed that Uganda Police force raided Kamuli Sugar Factory where they discovered scores of empty bags of Kaliro Sugar amidst allegations of repackaging sugar for both export and domestic market.
Speaking to our reporter in a phone interview, Ibrahim Bbosa, the assistant commissioner for public and corporate affairs for the tax body confirmed that the raid on Kamuli Sugar factory was done by Uganda police.
‘’I have talked to our people about this, that raid was done by the Uganda Police’’, Bbosa said summarily.
This comes at a time when several manufacturers around the East African region have been demanding for stiffer enforcement of sugar packaging regulations to curb abuse by some companies suspected of repackaging and rebranding contrabands in their names.
‘’Authorities stormed Kamuli Sugar Factory facility at Kiroba in Kamuli district along the Kamuli-Jinja Highway where a group of suspected workers were caught red-handed sorting empty sugar bags including those with Kaliro sugar brands. There have been allegations of repackaging sugar into bags with Kaliro Sugar brands as a way of concealment’’, revealed a source who preferred anonymity.
The Police Spokesman Busoga North, ASP Michael Kasada said the local police were not involved in the alleged raid, he however added that investigations are under way to establish what could have really transpired.
In the Video clips seen by this reporter that have gone viral on social media platforms , captured inside Kamuli sugar Factory, government official are seen grilling workers who were nabbed sorting empty sacks which had the addresses of Sugar & Allied Industries Limited commonly known as Kaliro sugar, before packaging could reportedly take place to flood the contrabands into the markets.
It is alleged that an investigations team comprising various agencies including security officials ascertained that some sugar was not being taxed as per the EAC trade protocol and it had become a regional challenge which prompted them to conduct an abrupt operation.
“There are regulatory provisions on standards of sugar packaging. However, enforcement should bring the culprits to book because such practices lead to the retailing of sugar whose quality and origin are unknown. This encourages smuggling and is very dangerous for the health of the consumers,” said one of the traders who preferred anonymity.
Efforts to get a comment from Vijay Patel, one of the Top managers at Kamuli Sugar were futile by press time as he declined picking our endless calls.
A source from the factory said the alleged packaging of contrabands by Kamuli Sugar was uncovered through the intelligence report of security that had placed surveillance in the area.
‘’The syndicate who buys such products in large quantities should also be investigated .If sugar is re-bagged for the public to buy, it causes distortions in the market, compromises sugar quality, and leads to loss of government revenue’’, added a source from the Ministry of trade.
In recent years, many sugar factories in the great lakes region have blamed their counterparts for packaging sugar using their branded bags without.
The development comes at a time when Uganda has been facing tough times with its neighbors like Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania over quality issues on its products.
It is alleged that despite the maintained of high quality of its products but the genuine ,practices such as re-bagging contrabands like sugar are spoiling Ugandan market in the neighboring countries
In April, Kenya suspended the importation of Ugandan maize citing a laboratory report, which showed it was unfit for human consumption.
Illicit Sugar trade especially by producers who repackage substandard sugar into different sacks of other local giant sugar factories to evade the payment of taxes and to facilitate easy marketing is not fit for human consumption and may, with additives, be harmful.
Kaliro sugar state of the art plant also known as Sugar & Allied Industries Limited, is a subsidiary of Alam Group which was commissioned in 2013 by President Yoweri Museveni with the capacity to crush 2000 tonnes of sugarcane per day producing 200 tonnes, with more than 4,000 registered out growers who are farming 25,000 acres of sugar cane.
Information obtained from Wikipedia indicates that Kamuli Sugar Limited’s headquarters are located on the Jinja-Kamuli-Mbulamuti Road, at Bugabula Block 9, Kiroba, in Kamuli District. The company is reportedly a member of the Millers Association of Sugarcane, a nationwide industry group of small sugar manufacturers in Uganda.