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Cabinet yet to approve payment of UGX 948 billion to South Sudan traders

FILE PHOTO: Secretary to Treasury Keith Muhakanizi notes cabinet will discuss the issue of compensation before a final decision is made on the beneficiaries.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Payment of traders who made losses in South Sudan is pending Cabinet approval.

Last year, Parliament approved a select committee report recommending payment of Ugandan traders in South Sudan who lost their goods when unrest broke out in 2012. The move will see a payment of Shillings 948 billion as compensation to the traders.

During the unrest, Uganda traders lost their goods, while other people lost their lives and more than 4 million people displaced.

The committee also recommended for payment after verification of other companies whose claims total Shillings 170 billion.

The Secretary to Treasury Keith Muhakanizi on Thursday told Parliament’s Finance Committee that Cabinet will discuss the issue of compensation before a final decision is made on the beneficiaries.

He was responding to a question raised by Kyegegwa Woman MP Stella Kiiza who asked why government is yet to pay traders for the goods they lost.

Muhakanizi noted that the Public Finance Management Act requires him to verify all payments before final payments are made.

“Under this law, I couldn’t give those instructions. Before you pay, you must satisfy yourself. It is your duty to ensure money paid is fine, proper and paid on time. I find myself in difficult situation because some people said don’t verify. When I put requirements of verification in papers, a group of South Sudan traders took me to court. Court took its time and said stop until we have finalized,” said Muhakanizi.

He added that he had discussed with Finance Minister Matia Kasaija and they decided that before any payment, the President and Cabinet should be informed. He revealed that a cabinet paper in this respect has been finalized.

However, Budadiri West MP Nandala Nandala Mafabi wondered why South Sudan shouldn’t shoulder the burden given the agreement the nation had signed with Uganda indicating that by 2020, it would have paid the money.

But Muhakanizi said Uganda delayed to implement its part of the agreement and this would require the two nations to renegotiate the agreement.

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