Ugandan traders have renewed their demands to Parliament seeking compensation of US $ 15 million (57.535 billion Shillings) from the Government for losses they incurred during the armed insurgency in neighboring South Sudan.
The 160 traders led by Rashid Manafa, under their umbrella body, Joint Action for the Redemption of Ugandan Traders in South Susan, lost their goods and now want Parliament’s Committee on Trade, Tourism, and Industries to intervene on the matter.
In May 2019, the 10th Parliament approved 900 billion Shillings to compensate 33 companies, which supplied goods and services to the Government of South Sudan between 2008 and 2010. However, only 10 companies have so far been compensated.
The terms of the compensation followed a mutual agreement between Uganda and South Sudan, which allowed the Treasury to clear the debt and treat it as a loan to the Government of South Sudan. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two countries only covered 10 companies that have since been paid over 40 billion Shillings while the smaller traders missed out.
Manafa explains that the 160 claimants under his leadership have been verified and cleared for compensation by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development but have never received anything despite all being verified by the Uganda Revenue Authority – URA.
Wycliffe Bukenya, of Wycliffe Motors Uganda, said in 2003, he repaired and supplied spare parts for the fleets of South Sudan’s President and the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army – SPLA, and said he was partly paid in 2014 and his balance of US $ 770,000 about 2.949 billion shillings is still pending.
Wilbroad Bukyana one of the traders who claimed to have set up the first telecommunication services in the independent South Sudan which was sold after he fled the war-torn country blames the Ministry of Finance for delaying compensating the affected claimants yet South Sudan agreed to the liability.
Equally, Agnes Sanyu, another claimant recalled that in 2019 the Ministry of Finance put out an advert calling for the affected claimants to submit their documents and since then no concrete action has been taken to have the matter resolved amid unending verifications.
The Chairperson of the Committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry, Mwine Mpaka, said they have invited the different stakeholders on October 25th, 2022 for a joint discourse on the matter before they seek an audience with President Yoweri Museveni for further intervention.
The different stakeholders that are expected to participate in the discussion include the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Trade, URA, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the Uganda Human Rights Commission, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
In the same year, the URA verified only 22 claimants that had duly exported goods to South Sudan out of 157 claims that were submitted. At the time, the tax body also advised the Government to decide on a cut-off point for the claims following the swelling number of claimants.
In May, the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among Annet directed Finance Minister Matia Kasaija to return to the House by the end of June and present an addendum to the first MoU to compensate the affected traders but that is yet to happen.