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South Sudan doubts credibility of Ugandan suppliers

Uganda’s Ambassador to South Sudan, Ronnie Balya. PHOTO via @Parliament_Ug

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Government of South Sudan doubts the credibility of Ugandan traders who supplied goods and services to the country.

This was revealed by Uganda’s Ambassador to South Sudan, Ronnie Balya, in Juba on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, while meeting members of Parliament from the select committee on South Sudan compensation.

The committee is in Juba scrutinising the payment of up to 41 billion shillings to 10 companies.

According to Balya, South Sudan President, Salva Kiir is positive about compensation of Ugandan traders but he doubts the authenticity of the claimants and the huge sum of up to 1 billion dollars they are seeking for in compensation.

Balya said Salva Kiir’s government has interacted with Uganda government officials on traders’ compensation but lacks the morale to pay huge sums of money, to unverified claimants.

“When I was handing in my credentials in September 2018, President Salva Kiir repeatedly told me about connivance of politicians from both Uganda and South Sudan in the traders’ compensation, but he wants peace with Uganda, so he said traders can be paid,” Balya said.

He also said the list of claimants totalling to up to 200 is exaggerated and with non-existent traders. According to Balya, South Sudan was especially concerned with a previous experience in which traders supplied hot air and were paid enormous sums of money.

Balya called for thorough investigations before compensation is done. He urged the committee to ask South Sudan government for the verification report of the paid traders.

According to Balya, the Uganda Mission wrote to South Sudan government in April 2017, inquiring about plans to set up a verification Committee but have never received any response.

The chairperson of the Select Committee, Ann Maria Nankabirwa reiterated that Parliament is putting up with pressure from Ugandan traders to explain their fate, because of the bilateral agreement between the two countries, traders are looking at Ugandan government to pay them since, they can no longer go to South Sudan, and their issue needs to be explained.

Stella Kiiza, the Kyegegwa Woman MP, said they need a quick intervention to have traders known to South Sudan verified and a sovereign guarantee issued so that government of Uganda pursues payment.

She says the joint verification must be done.

10 companies have been earmarked for compensation under the 2010 Memorandum of Understanding between Uganda and South Sudan. They include Rubya Investments, 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.

However, some companies that were validated missed out on the list of payment. They include Roko Construction Company, Ake-jo General enterprise, JB Traders, Odyek Ejang Company, Dott Services, Gunya Company limited, Premier company and MFK company among others.

According to the agreement, the compensation by Government of Uganda will be a loan that will be reimbursed by the South Sudan Government.

Concerns by the South Sudan Government comes following an experience of the infamous dura saga in which companies that received payments for cereals from the South Sudan government never delivered them.

The South Sudan government reportedly paid up to USD 1 million (3.7 billion Shillings) to hundreds of domestic contractors to supply food to state governments ahead of a projected famine in 2008. Under the purchase, the government had sought to up a stockpile of dura (Sorghum), a staple of the South Sudanese diet. However, the food was never delivered, starting what was later referred to as the Dura saga.

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