The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Keith Muhakanizi has revealed that cabinet is slated to discuss the issue of South Sudan traders compensation before final decision would be made on the particular individuals meant to benefit from the case bonanza.
Muhakanizi made the revelation on Thursday while appearing before Parliament’s Finance Committee. He was responding to a question posed by Stella Kiiza (Kyegegwa Woman MP) who asked the Secretary to the Treasury to explain why Government is yet to pay traders for the goods they lost during the insurgency in South Sudan.
In his defence, Muhakanizi quoted the Public Finance Management Act highlighting the duties of Secretary to Treasury that requires him to verify all payments before final payments are made.
“Under this law, I couldn’t give those instructions, before you pay, you must satisfy yourself. It is your duty to ensure money paid is fine, proper and paid on time. I find myself in difficult situation because some people said don’t verify,” said Muhakanizi.
He added, “When I put requirements of verification in papers, a group of Southern Sudan traders took me to court. Court took its time said stop until we have finalized, another group. I discussed with Senior Minister Matia Kasaija and we decided before you pay I want to first inform President and Cabinet, we have finalized the cabinet paper.”
In May 2019, Parliament approved a recommendation by the select committee to pay Ugandan traders in South Sudan who lost their goods when war ravaged the nation in 2012, a move that will see tax payers cough out Shs948Bn as compensation to the traders.
This followed a Civil War that broke out in South Sudan between forces of the government and opposition forces after the President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar and ten others of attempting a coup d’état, claims Machar and was forced to flee the country.
During the civil unrest, Uganda traders lost their goods, in a war that saw 400,000 about people lose their lives, more than 4 million people displaced.
The committee also recommended for payment after verification of the other companies whose claims total to $45m (approximately Shs170Bn) coupled with the $207m (approximately Shs778Bn), bringing the total compensation to Shs948Bn.
However, Nandala Mafabi wondered why South Sudan shouldn’t shoulder the burden given the agreement the nation had signed with Uganda indicating that by 2020, it would have paid the money back to Uganda.
Muhakanizi however said Uganda delayed to implement its part of the agreement and this would require the two nations to renegotiate the agreement.