MPs express concern over closure of new fruit factory

By Alice Lubwama
Law makers on the budget committee of parliament are concerned that Soroti fruit factory is not functioning barely a few weeks after it was commissioned.

The members have learnt that this factory which was set up by a grant from the Korean Government cannot operate due to lack of operational capital to buy fruits and to pay the workers.

The chairperson of the trade committee of parliament Robert Kibirige Ssebunya says that the Uganda development cooperation had requested for over 35 billion shillings in the coming financial year 2019/2020 to have this factory operate but the ministry of finance has provided only 4 billion shillings.

The chairperson of the budget committee Amos Lugolobi says that they will not accept a factory which has just been commissioned to remain closed.

“We cannot accept a situation where a factory that has been commissioned to remain closed , because the factory has farmers whose supply oranges ,what are they going to do with the oranges they are going to harvest soon, throwing them in the bush, that is not accepted,” said Lugolobi

The MP said that they will look everywhere in the budget to ensure that they get money for this factory to continue operating.

But when The Chief Executive Officer for Soroti Fruit Factory, Ronald Kigongo appeared before the committee denied the closure of the factory saying people are still working , though they don’t have any products on the shelves, since product is still undergoing various tests to be certified by Uganda national bureau of standards.

One of the committee members also West Budama North MP Richard Okoth Othieno tasked him to explain, why they rushed to commission the factory when they were not ready.

The factory was financed by the Government of Uganda through the Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) while the Korean National Cooperation Agency (KOICA) contributed US$7.4 million.
The factory employs about 150 people directly in the plant and about 1,000 farmers in the region. The facility currently makes orange and mango juice and the future plans entail making a variety of fruit juices.