Redress over trade losses in South Sudan stalls

Saturday March 30 2019

Women selling grains at St Balikuddembe market in Uganda.

Women selling grains at St Balikuddembe market in Uganda. Ten companies are owed for maize and sorghum supplied to South Sudan under Strategic Grain Reserve. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI | NATION 

JONATHAN KAMOGA
By JONATHAN KAMOGA
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Thirteen out of 23 companies approved by Uganda’s parliament in April 2018 to receive compensation for losses incurred after supplying merchandise to South Sudan will have to wait longer as the government verifies their claims.

South Sudan was Uganda’s main export market until civil war broke out in 2013 and many Ugandan traders, mainly grain dealers, lost their products or did not get paid by South Sudan government departments.

In 2016, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir signed a bilateral agreement with Kampala offering a $42.5 million loan to compensate the traders, which Juba would pay back.

Approved list

The Ugandan parliament then approved a list of 23 companies to be compensated, but the finance ministry controversially paid all the money to Uganda-South Sudan grain traders — an association of 10 traders.

The Ministries of Trade and Finance were accused of distorting and manipulating the list. Last week, the Minister of State for Finance David Bahati told a parliamentary committee that the government currently had no money to compensate the remaining firms and more verification needed to be done.

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Mr Bahati said the government will dispatch a team to carry out the verification in a month’s time.

The chairperson of the Kampala City Traders Association Everest Kayondo said the delay will make an already bad situation worse for the traders, who incurred heavy losses and owe millions in debt.

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