Ministry of Finance on the Issue of Compensation for Ugandan Traders in South Sudan.
On the 26th March 2019, a team from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development led by Mr. Patrick Ocailap appeared before the Select Committee to discuss the compensation of the Ugandan traders in South Sudan who lost merchandise during the war.
Mr, Ocailap noted that Uganda and South Sudan Governments had signed a bilateral agreement in which they agreed on the strategies of compensating companies who lost their merchandise. Following the Civil war which affected Ugandan Companies/traders, a Joint Verification Committee was formed to help in verifying the companies which claimed to have lost their merchandise in South Sudan. The joint committee is comprised of members from both member states, and the Ugandan team is chaired by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
The team informed the Committee that the ten companies that had already undergone the verification exercise were compensated. Part of the money used for compensating these companies was sent by the South Sudan government (USD 15 million) while the rest was to be paid by the government of Uganda on condition that the South Sudan government guaranteed to reimburse it in the future. Thus, the Ugandan government gave it as a loan to the South Sudan government.
The select committee members argued that since the compensation of the first ten companies, banks are threatening to confiscate the assets of other affected companies which have not been compensated because they have failed to pay back the loans they acquired. The banks expected that all the companies that had lost their money in the South Sudan conflict had been compensated. However, it was reported that a total of 25 companies that were victims of South Sudan clash have not been compensated to date. It should be remembered that in 2018, Hon. David Bahati had moved a motion on the floor of Parliament seeking the approval of a loan to be given to South Sudan in form of compensation for the lost property of Ugandan traders. It was during the discussion of this motion that Hon. Juliet Kyinyamatama raised the issue of additional 23 companies which lost their merchandise in South Sudan. The Committee of National Economy of Parliament looked into this matter and Parliament resolved that the 23 companies should be included on the compensation list. It was on this basis that the Ministry of Finance sought advice from the Auditor General who later advised that the Ministry should first settle the ten companies and then the rest would be compensated after verification.
The Chairperson of the Select Committee, Hon Ann Maria Nankabirwa urged the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to secure funds and pay traders noting that “traders lost families, some are hospitalized while others are struggling with bank loans”. She further said that if the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development can secure other resources as they pursue the repayment of the loan from South Sudan, they will have saved the situation. Finally, the Finance Minister pledged to help companies which are facing pressure from the banks on a case by case basis.