The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Anita Among has directed the Minister of Finance to present a statement on the progress of payment of Uganda – South Sudan traders, especially the twenty-three (23) pending companies who supplied goods and services to the government of South Sudan.

“Bring the agreement that justified ring-fencing of payment to only 10 companies and explain why the 23 companies have not been paid because we made a provision in this Parliament for payment of these traders,” said Among.

The directive follows concerns raised by Members of Parliament over discrimination and selective payment of the traders. They noted that whereas Parliament approved funds for payment of 33 companies in 2019, only 10 have been paid.

Dokolo District Woman MP, Cecilia Ogwal said that the refusal by the Ministry of Finance to pay the traders was not only in total defiance of Parliament resolution on the matter but also a Presidential directive to have the additional 23 companies compensated.

Ogwal narrated how many of the traders have since lost their properties to banks for failure to repay the loans, which has led to a break of marriages and families, resulting in homelessness and Health challenges.

Parliament in May 2019 approved Sh900b for traders that supplied goods and services to the South Sudan government between 2008 and 2010. However, to date, only 10 Companies have been paid.

In 2010, South Sudan and Uganda Government entered into a mutual agreement which ensured that Uganda clears the debt and treats it as a loan to the government of South Sudan. The money will be paid back within five to 10 years at a six per cent interest rate after the first year.

The Memorandum of Understanding initially signed between the Government and South Sudan covers 10 companies namely 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, 23 other companies were proposed and included by Parliament following recommendations of the Select Committee investigating claims of non-payment of Ugandan traders.

Amongi who chaired the plenary session confirmed that she witnessed the payment of the 10 traders as provided in the bilateral agreement between Uganda and South Sudan but wondered why the remaining traders have not been paid.

Busiro East MP, Medard Sseggona tasked the State Minister for Planning, Henry Musasizi to explain the criteria used by the Government to make the payments. He wondered how some companies had paid three times while others not even once.

Musasizi informed the House that the Government had so far paid out US$29 million to 10 companies out of the US$56 million meant to be paid to the 33 Companies. The Minister was, however, not able to respond to concerns raised by Members on why the 23 Companies had not been paid.

Ends…