JUBA/KAMPALA Traders who lost their merchandise following the war in South Sudan have accused Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija of taunting them over losing their goods, questioning them why they chose the war-ravaged nation as their trade destination.
Kasaija statements were made by Geoffrey Okwi, who led the team of 23 companies that claim to have been left out on payment while appearing before the Select Committee that was instituted by Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga to investigate the criteria used in paying off the traders and to identify the real beneficiaries of the USD56M that was shared among ten companies whose claims are under question.
Okwi pleaded with the Committee to ensure that the issue of compensation is referred back to the Ministry of Trade saying they are tired of the mistreatment at the Minister of Finance.
He said; “This is a complex issue, our prayer is that please look for a way which you can give us money, we are dying. Out of our members, so far, we have lost three people already. We are asking, take us back to our mother Ministry which is trade, we are tired of Ministry of Finance, whenever we go, insults only, they even close the doors, they don’t want to hear anything from the trader of South Sudan.?
“The Minister Matia Kasaija told us off that who told you to trade in South Sudan, yet we were bringing revenue to the country. The Minister himself, the two are very arrogant,” added Okwi.
It should be recalled that following the war that ravaged the newest member of the African continent in 2012, South Sudan government entered into an agreement with Ugandan Government to compensate the traders who supplied goods to South Sudan.
The Traders told the Committee that whereas they were in position to get commercial banks that had extended loans to the traders after Bank of Uganda Governor, pleaded with commercial banks to halt demand of payment until Government clears their payment, but hell broke loose when some traders were paid and others left out.
John Bosco Omara, the spokesperson of the 23 companies detailed the suffering he has undergone ever since they lost their goods to traders saying; “Some members collapsed and were sent to intensive care, it has been very hard for members whose property is still in the bank. I lost my home, I am now sleeping in the church. If the bilateral agreement was written in good faith, we wouldn’t be here, this thing was done without publishing anywhere that we entrusted people to look after our interest and they turned against us.”
While making their prayers before the Committee, the traders asked the Legislators to go to Juba to do verifications into the claims of these companies and many of them had documents in relation to supplying their goods to South Sudan and lashed out at the officials of the Ministry of Finance for betraying the country, when they undertook a deadly agreement to suit their interests.
The committee heard that among the 10 companies that benefited from the payment, three of them were for Minister of state in charge of planning David Bahati.