Bunge issues directives on URSUS tractors pact

DODOMA: THE National Assembly has directed the government to find a way of providing relief to all farmers who incurred losses from the URSUS tractors lease agreement.

Speaker of Parliament Dr Tulia Ackson issued the directives on Tuesday after receiving a report from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry, Trade, Agriculture and Livestock.

In April this year, the Speaker ordered an in-depth investigation on a tractor lease agreement between farmers and a tractor manufacturing company, URSUS through the National Development Corporation (NDC) following complaints from farmers.

In her directives, Dr Tulia asked the government to carry out an in-depth analysis, including identifying groups of farmers and the types of tractors they received.

According to Dr Tulia, the committee’s findings show the lease agreement involved different types of tractors, groups of farmers and different terms of loan repayment.

She said having conducted an in-depth investigation into the matter the committee established that the tractors that farmers complained about were indeed defective.

“Identifying the groups of farmers is necessary simply because some had already completed servicing their debts while others had either paid half of the loan or had not started making payment,” Speaker Tulia said.

The Speaker also directed the Government Negotiation Team (GNT) that was constituted in 2019 to work on the matter to complete its task and give feedback to the government so that it can devise a mechanism to help the affected farmers.

In her directives, Dr Tulia ordered all the six reports, which were demanded by the Standing Committee on Industry, Trade, Agriculture and Livestock during its investigation but were not availed, to be handed over to the Clerk of the National Assembly before the Parliamentary committees’ meetings scheduled for October 2023.

The documents include the report on inspection carried out by the Centre of Agricultural Mechanization and Rural Technologies (CARMATEC) that established the shortcomings of URSUS tractors, the report handed over by Suma JKT to NDC that contains details of the project, and the report of the Government Negotiation Team (GNT).

Other documents that must be submitted to Clerk of the National Assembly before October are; the report of the Ministry of Finance that contains details of the payments made, the report from the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) on its involvement in project implementation, and the report from Majembe Auction Mart.

Dr Tulia said she would hand over the report the committee report to the government, directing it to work on all recommendations put forward, including the specific directives issued before giving its feedback to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

The committee, for its part, must make a close follow up on how the government will implement its recommendations and the directives before reporting it in its annual report to be submitted into the House during the 14th Parliamentary meeting in February next year.

While deliberating on the new financial estimates for the Office of Prime Minister on April 13th, this year, Members of Parliament complained on the tractor lease agreement between farmers and URSUS company through NDC, forcing the Speaker to direct the Parliamentary Standing Committee to investigate the matter.

Issues that were to be looked into by the committee, include analyzing the agreements signed between farmers and URSUS company to establish if they met government and farmers’ expectations, the outcomes of their implementation, challenges that emerged during the implementation of the agreements, assessing payment arrangement by farmers and reimbursement of the farmers’ money to URSUS firm.

The committee was also required to advise on the best way to resolve challenges leant.

According to Dr Tulia, having the committee met different groups and stakeholders, including NDC, it established beyond reasonable doubt that the tractors leased to farmers were indeed defective.

The tractors’ mechanical problems caused farmers to incur losses as some had to sell family property to service their debts, thwarting their efforts to emancipate themselves from poverty.

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