Parliament has approved the payment of Shs947 billion to about 82 Ugandan companies that supplied goods and services to the government of South Sudan.
The traders supplied goods and services between 2008 and 2010 but were not paid after the outbreak of an armed conflict in the volatile nation in December 2013.
In 2010, South Sudan and Uganda agreed to ensure that Uganda pays the outstanding bill to the suppliers.
Uganda would in turn bill the government of South Sudan. South Sudan promised to clear the bill between five to 10 years at a six percent interest rate after the first year.
The Memorandum of Understanding that detailed the arrangement covered 10 companies that included 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. These companies have reportedly been paid Shs41 billion.
Parliament had initially raised concern why only 10 companies were being paid and yet several companies and individuals had supplied goods and services to the government of South Sudan.
As a result, MPs added more companies to the list of organisations that were supposed to be paid and a select committee of Parliament was set out to investigate the matter.
On Thursday Parliament adopted the report of the select committee on South Sudan that was chaired by Kyankwanzi District Woman MP, Ms Ann Maria Nankabirwa.
The committee recommended the payment of Shs778 billion which has been approved by the Minister of Finance and Planning of South Sudan, to 40 companies and another Shs169 billion to another set of 42 companies.
“It is the considered view of the committee that government finds money in the budget and urgently meet this obligation. In the event that the budget cannot accommodate this at a go, the government should explore possibilities of obtaining the said funds from the domestic financial market and expedite the process of settling the claims and also remedy the accumulation of interest on loans that some of the traders owe local financial institutions,” the committee’s report reads in part.
Parliament also approved a proposal to have the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development disburse the loan balance of Shs112 billion under the sovereign guarantee to the affected companies in order to build confidence and assure South Sudan that it is committed to the terms of the bi-lateral agreement.
Parliament also adopted a proposal to write off tax arrears owed by the traders who supplied South Sudan because they have been making losses and most of their property was confiscated.
Some of the 83 companies that are set to benefit are; Tamosi's Farm, Dott Services Ltd, Premier Commodities (U) Ltd, Aponye (U) , Afro - Kai Limited, MFK Cooperation Ltd, Ake-Jo General Enterprises, Roko Construction , Mr Cel Uganda , Adroit Consult International , Makpaco , Quality Chemicals , KK Transporters , Ropani international and BMA Constructions and Fabrications.
Others are; Kaika Investments, Gash Logistics, Uganda Air Cargo Corporation, Sun Air, Bilpam Pharm and Juba Cheap Stores. Special cases involving loss of property (buildings) include Mr Bongomin Sunday who demands Shs11 billion after the SPLA occupied and took over his apartments and ABC South Sudan who lost equipment worth Sh2.7 billion.
Meanwhile, MPs say all companies and individuals who supplied goods and services to the government of South Sudan will be considered for payment upon verification.