UGANDA: Trade minister tells mills to lower prices

Published: 12/07/2017, 10:00:24 AM

Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde has asked sugar manufacturers to make their products more affordable to consumers than currently is the case, according to Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper.

According to Kyambadde, the current sugar prices are still on the higher side for most consumers to comfortably afford.

In a press statement signed and issued early this week by Kyambadde, indicated that in eight months, the price of sugar has dropped from UGX8,500 (US$2.3) to currently UGX4,500 per kilogramme.

Before it skyrocketed to UGX8,500, it was trading at between UGX2,500 and UGX3,200 in most retail shops around the country.

When Daily Monitor inquired the prices of sugar in selected retail shops on Dewinton Road, Kawempe, Ntinda, Zana, Seguku and Kibuli, a kilogramme was being traded at different prices, ranging from UGX4,500 to UGX6,000.

Without appearing to be fixing the prices for the commodity, Kyambadde implored the sugar manufacturers to see to it that the prices of sugar drops further.

"I am tasking the sugar millers to come up with a maximum price for sugar but as government our position is that the price of sugar per kilogram should not exceed UGX4,000," Kyambadde said in a statement issued by the Ministry's public relation officer, Hadijah Nakakande on Tuesday evening.

In a meeting between Kyambadde and the members of Uganda Sugar Millers Association held on Tuesday at the ministry of trade headquarters in Kampala, the manufacturers denied being behind the escalating sugar prices.

"...they denied allegations of hoarding sugar so as to sell it at higher prices," reads a statement quoting the millers.

This was after Kyambadde tasked the millers from Kakira, Kinyara and Lugazi, among others, to explain why sugar prices remain high despite claims that there are enough stock available.

The chairperson of the millers, Jim Mwine Kabeho said they do not control the prices of the commodity, but wholesalers and retailers do.

He said factory prices have reduced from UGX198,000 per bag in June 2017, to the current UGX170, 000, and retail prices should be able to go down to UGX4,000 or even below.

He said: "The recommended retail price by the millers is UGX3,600 and in some areas is at UGX3,400. Therefore on average retail prices should not go beyond UGX4, 000 for a premium or packed sugar."

To ensure that sugar is sold to consumers at no more than UGX4000, Kyambadde asked the millers to prevail over the distributors.

The distributors, should in turn ensure that wholesalers sell at the recommended price to retailers who then should be able to transact business within the UGX4,000 range or cheaper.

On importing duty free sugar, Kabeho said there is enough stock of sugar in the country and therefore no need to import sugar.

Kyambadde reiterated her earlier statement that the government has not taken a decision to reduce taxes on imported sugar as earlier reported in the press.

The sugar millers brought to the attention of Kyamnadde the issue of smuggled sugar from Kenya that is being packaged with names similar to the local brands.

This, they said, is crippling the domestic sugar industry because the smuggled sugar is usually at a cheaper price.