JUBA – The Speaker of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly of South Sudan, Anthony Makana, has expressed commitment to see that Ugandan traders with claims against their government are paid.
Speaker Makana assured a delegation of Members of Parliament from Uganda that his Parliament will collaborate with government of South Sudan to clear Ugandan traders’ claims.
“As Parliament we will be standing with you, once the Ministry of Finance appropriates funds for Ugandan traders in the budget, we will not tamper with it, we will pass it such that traders will be paid” Said Makana.
He made these remarks during a meeting with members of the Select committee from Parliament of Uganda, investigating payment of Uganda traders formerly trading in the country’s capital.
The committee is in South Sudan to meet various government agencies over the plight of traders with claims against South Sudan government for over 10 years.
Mr. Makana said that his government which enjoys good relations with Uganda is indebted payment of the loan, where Ugandan traders supplied items to the government of South Sudan.
Mr. Makana urged the Committee to appeal to South Sudan’s Ministry of Finance to plan for traders’ payments in the forthcoming budget.
“The Ministry of Finance will table the budget before Parliament in May, when you meet them; appeal to them to include traders’ claims in the budget, once the money is in budget we will approve it”
The Select Committee chairperson, Hon Ann Maria Nankabirwa told Speaker Makana, that Uganda also requires South Sudan to verify all claimants.
“Parliament is interested in payment of traders, we are ready to appropriate money, but we need agreement with Sudan on genuine traders”
Hon Mathias Mpuuga implored Speaker Makana to use his position and push his government to verify all claimants. “Parliament of Uganda has the money and is ready to pay, but it doubts the claimants, it is seeking faster approval of claimants from south Sudan. We want your Parliament to push government to put up a verification committee and make the process faster,” Mr. Mpuuga noted.
The Committee is set to meet various agencies in South Sudan that were engaged in the Purchase of items from Ugandan traders as per the Bi-Lateral agreement of 2016.
In 2016, the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) requested Ugandan admiration to pay the traders who supplied items to South Sudan 10 years ago.
To operationalize this arrangement, South Sudan signed a bilateral agreement in December 2016, whose effect was borrowing of money from Uganda to be repaid back in future.
Ministry of Finance reports indicate that Uganda has been able to pay only 10 companies to a tune of UGX40b since the issuance of a sovereign guarantee by Sudan administration on 29 January 2019.
In March 2019, Parliament set up the Select Committee to verify the actual beneficiaries of compensation; criteria used to determine the traders to be compensated and the methodology used by government in the compensation.
The House established the committee following complaints by a section of MPs saying that the compensation processes was not fair and was not in line with a parliamentary resolution on the compensation.
The select committee is thus mandated to investigate the authenticity of the 10 companies whose claims have been settled, the 36 traders with documents verified by the Ministry of Trade and other traders with claims on supply of items to South Sudan upon request by Uganda.