South Sudan still verifying unpaid suppliers - govt

Exodus. UPDF trucks accompany Ugandans out of South Sudan following the 2013 violence. Many Ugandan traders lost goods worth billion of shillings in the war. FILE PHOTO

What you need to know:

  • The security situation has progressively improved due the return of peace but with isolated disturbances.

South Sudan is verifying Ugandan suppliers who have not been paid for supply of goods and services.

Uganda’s ambassador to South Sudan Ronnie Balya, told Daily Monitor the figures owed by suppliers had been inflated thus necessitating verification. 

He was speaking ahead of the Uganda-South Sudan Business Forum expected in Juba in next month.

“South Sudan is concluding an investigation on who are the rightful claimants. At the start the [figure] was small but later shot up to [more than] $1b,” he said, noting that unscrupulous suppliers had dealt with elements in South Sudan to inflate the claim. However, he added some claimants had already been paid. 

This is not the first Uganda and South Sudan are verifying claimants. The exercise has been going on for years with claims of inflated and undeserving claimants, making it impossible for genuine suppliers to get paid. 

A number of Ugandans have been doing business in South Sudan but have heavily been impacted by wars and conflicts in the country. 

Many Ugandans have lost life, properties, businesses and billions of shillings of unpaid dues for supplies to the government of South Sudan. 

Brig Balya said whereas government currently has no clear data on the number of Ugandans trading in South Sudan, estimates put them at half a million.  He said government had about 10 years ago signed a memorandum of understanding with South Sudan but it has been difficult to implement due to wars.  

However, he noted, the situation has progressively improved due the return of peace but with isolated disturbances.  

“Once in a while we get incidents of attack of gunmen along roads but these are isolated,” he said, noting that South Sudan has done a lot to stop criminality on roads.  Uganda exports to South Sudan stand at between $350m (Shs1.3 trillion) and $400m (Shs1.5 trillion). 

This is far lower than the pre-conflict estimates of $1b (Shs3.7 trillion). South Sudan exports to Uganda are valued at $86m (about Shs323b).

Mr Karlos Genes Ocum, the National Ministry of Trade and Industry first undersecretary, said during announcement of the business forum in Juba that Uganda and South Sudan had exchanged ideas on the private sector from both sides to promote trade and investment between the two countries.

The forum, he said, seeks to see that traders move freely from one country to another to do business. 

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