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Uganda: Members of Parliament demand equity in payment of South Sudan traders
It is saddening to hear that some traders have been paid thrice while the majority have not received any payment
KAMPALA, Uganda: -- Members of Parliament are discontented with the manner in which government is handling payment of Ugandan traders who supplied goods to the government of South Sudan.
Legislators are irked that whereas Parliament approved funds for payment of 33 companies in 2019, only 10 have been paid.
MPS said it is saddening to hear that some traders have been paid thrice while the majority have not received any payment.
“Payments were ring-fenced for 10 companies which are powerful multi-billionaires, but the 23 villagers have not been paid,” Hon Cecilia Ogwal (FDC, Dokolo District) said.
Cecila Ogwal said she is concerned that the Ministry of Finance is acting not only in defiance of a Parliament resolution but also a presidential directive to have the additional 23 companies compensated.
“The president directed the Ministry of Finance to pay these traders realizing that they would face serious financial challenges but we have learnt that there are traders who have not been paid,” Cecilia Ogwal said.
She added that some of the traders who have not been paid have lost property to banks.
Cecilia Ogwal raised the matter of national importance during a plenary sitting on Wednesday, 02 January 2022 chaired by Deputy Speaker, Anita Among.
Among said she witnessed the payment of the 10 traders as provided in the bi-lateral agreement between Uganda and South Sudan but wondered why the remaining traders have not been paid.
“This was a hot issue in the 10th Parliament; an agreement was reached and the House added 23 more companies. We need to know what we have done for the 23,” Among said.
She said that traders had approached her about loss of homes and property due to failure to clear bank loans. “There is a lady who came to my office crying; she is from Gulu. Her business was closed and house sold. We need to help these Uganda,” Among said.
The State Minister for Finance, Hon Henry Musasizi explained that out of the total claim for 33 companies (US$56 million), only US$29 million has been paid out to 10 companies.
He however, could not explain why the remaining companies have not been paid. This prompted Among to demand a list of beneficiaries who have been paid and those pending payment.
“Bring the agreement of why payment was ring fenced to only 10 companies and an explanation on why the 23 companies have not been paid because we made a provision in this Parliament for payment of these traders,” said Among.
Busiro East MP, Hon Medard Sseggona requested Musasizi to articulate the procedure used in selecting ‘who gets paid first’ as a way of ruling out tribal sentiments raised by a section of MPs.
“How come some companies were paid three times yet there are those whose properties were retained by the bank while they are waiting forever to be paid? You must tell us the procedure otherwise that is why tribal sentiments are coming in,” said Sseggona.