Business

Uganda Traders Petition Parliament Over Goods Lost in South Sudan

Traders addressing press at yesterday
Traders addressing press yesterday

Ugandan traders that lost goods and money after the war that broke out in December 2013 in South Sudan, are calling upon Parliament to intervene and enforce payment of up to Shs. Shs150bn they are owed by both governments of Uganda and South Sudan.

The traders supplied a wide range of goods to the neighboring country worth about 56 million US Dollars. They were paid only $15million and $41million is still outstanding. The outbreak of war in December 2013 stopped the payment process.

An agreement was reached that Uganda pays the traders this money and that South Sudan would replenish it later.

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The group of over 15 traders led by J B Omara, John Bosco Byamugisha, Grace Musiime, Abdullah Besisira and Joseph Kasujja told the media on Friday that they had learnt of a scheme to discriminate among those that would benefit from the compensation.

In March last year, President Museveni instructed the Minister of Finance in a letter dated, March 22nd to study how government would raise money to rescue the businessmen so that government could continue with efforts to recover the 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,” President Museveni instructed in a letter.

According to a letter from the Minister of Trade to the Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, the two governments entered into a Bilateral Agreement for Uganda to pay Shs150bn and recover the money from South Sudan at a later date.

In the bi-lateral agreement, it was re-emphasized that any eligible but unverified claims by Ugandan Traders would be verified by a Joint Verification Team to be constituted within 30 days from the date of the agreement but this never happened since South Sudan didn’t constitute its team.

Following the delay of the joint verification exercise and the mounting pressure, the Ministry of Finance engaged the expertise of the Internal Security Organization (ISO) to conduct the re-verification of the claims that had been received.

Omar noted that earlier verifications found out that 33 companies were due for compensation.

But the traders say that through their sources, they learnt that the ISO had sidelined a number of traders verifying only 10 eligible for payment.

“We contest this report and move by the Ministry to only compensate a few companies leaving out most of us despite total commitment from the president to have all of us compensated,” Omar said.

Those approved for payment include; Rubya Investments Limited, Kibungo Enterprises, Aponye (U) Limited, Afro Kai ltd, Swift Commodities Establishment ltd, Sunrise Commodities, Ms. Sophie Omari, Apo General Agencies, Ropani International and K.K Transporters which only belong to four people,” Byamugisha said.

The traders accused the Minister of State for Planning, David Bahati of conniving with the selected few businessmen to sideline others.

However, Bahati dismissed the allegations and stressed that there is a bilateral agreement signed to the effect of getting some money to pay the traders.

“We haven’t received any budget to pay off the businessmen that suffered loss for supplying goods to South Sudan and in any case the process must pass through Parliament for approval and after authorizing us, we shall move on to look for money to pay them off,” Bahati said.

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