By David Muwanga
Pakistan businesspeople paid Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) and market vendors to strike so that the formersâ€™ rice market can be protected by reduction in taxes, an outgoing envoy has said.
The outgoing ambassador to Geneva, Switzerland, Kweronda Ruhemba said, â€œTo make matters worse, we import rice worth $90m (about sh162.9b) annually from Pakistan and the Pakistan businesspeople paid KACITA and market vendors to strike so that their market can be protected by reduction in the taxes.â€
Kweronda Ruhemba said this at a debrifieng meeting about the recently-concluded World Trade Organisation ministerial conference in Hong Kong.
â€œMembers of KACITA could have pocketed a lot of money. The day they were to close the shops, they were supposed to be paid the profits they had lost during the strike,â€ he said at the Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala.
However, KACITAâ€™s spokesman Issa Ssekitto said the business community in Uganda has no contacts with Pakistan.
â€œNeither do we have an embassy here for Pakistan. It is the East African leaders who are biased towards this trade. In Zanzibar, rice is imported at 25%, in Uganda 75% while Kenyaâ€™s is 30%,â€ Ssekitto said.
â€œThe strike was aimed at injustices in the trade due to smuggling because imported rice in Uganda had reduced due to smuggled rice through Zanzibar,â€ he said.