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South Sudan suppliers cry foul over delayed compensation

By Juliet Waiswa

Added 29th July 2017 12:00 AM

Between 2008 and 2010 the government of South Sudan partially paid what they owed Ugandan suppliers

South Sudan suppliers cry foul over delayed compensation

Geoffrey Okwir (L) of T/A Gunya Company Ltd and Grace Misiime of Madut Chan Company Ltd addressing the press at Fairway Hotel in Kampala. Photo by Saudha Nakandha

Between 2008 and 2010 the government of South Sudan partially paid what they owed Ugandan suppliers

 

Ugandan suppliers of goods and services to South Sudan are crying foul over government's delayed compensation process.

A cross section of suppliers many of them claiming to be choking on debts demanded that government expedites the process of their payment which they say has taken long.

Government disbursed $41m (about sh147bn) to 10 companies but their counterparts who include 22 suppliers who had not yet verified their documents by the time of the memorandum of understanding by the two countries on terms of compensation will have to wait for the joint verification team to take effect.

The verification committee according to State Minister for Finance, Planning and Economic David Bahati, consists of the Trade and Finance ministries, South Sudan government and the Attorney General.

The representatives of the 22 traders who claim their companies  supplied  goods and services,  during a press conference held at Fairway Hotel in Kampala on Friday, accused  government of favouring 10 companies during the first compensations.

"We all went to South Sudan with a motive of earning foreign currency for our country and we are surprised that 10 companies were listed to be beneficiaries of our sweat," John Bosco Omara who led a team of 22 suppliers said.

Bahati explained that the joint verification team is still studying documents of the 22 companies which are eligible but were not verified suppliers and payments will be made after the process.

"We are aware of their problems and bank loans, however government has to go through a process, before we carry out payments," Bahati said in a phone interview.

"The suppliers' documents will have to be verified, brought to Parliament and then taken to the Attorney General before a discussion is taken," he said adding that government will then look for funding.

South Sudan's independence opened that trade route and Ugandans flocked to trade in the country.

Between 2008 and 2010 the government of South Sudan partially paid what they owed Ugandan suppliers but when the war broke out in 2013 they stopped paying the suppliers.

33 suppliers in total were demanding sh365b from the South Sudan government.

In December 2016, Uganda and South Sudan reached a bilateral agreement concerning payment of monies owed to the traders but only 10 suppliers benefited from the first batch.

In the agreement, Uganda agreed to bail out all the suppliers so that they pay off their debts but the suppliers say government has delayed to fulfilling its promise.

A letter dated 22nd March 2016 from State House and signed by President Yoweri Museveni, directed the Ministry of Finance to study how government should raise money to rescue the suppliers as efforts continue to recover money from the South Sudan government.

"The fund should be run transparently so that only the people authenticated by the South Sudan government are the only ones to be paid," the letter read.

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