South Sudan shuts down illegal border checkpoints

Posted: September 20, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

A street in Juba, South Sudan. Illegal checkpoints along the borders of Africa’s newest state are blamed for the rising prices of goods in the country, which depends on imports from neighbours. PHOTO | AFP |

By MACHEL AMOS in JubaPosted Tuesday, September 20 2011 at 11:53

personnel have been accused severally of extorting cash from traders.

Deputy interior minister Salva Mathok Geng said 13 such unauthorised points where even goods on transit were being heavily "taxed" have been closed down across the country in an effort to curb skyrocketing market prices.

The move follows a meeting of the ministerial Economic Cluster committee over a week ago.

A select committee earlier established by President Salva Kiir to ascertain allegations of inflated and multiple taxes at the borders reported that there were 44 authorised and 65 unauthorised taxation units across the country.

The committee recommended the establishment of an independent Revenue Authority, elimination of illegal tax collecting units from all border entries and checkpoints and the harmonisation of the system of tax collections between the national and state levels.

It also pushed for the establishment of a mechanism for screening and licensing of clearing agencies and encouragement of the establishment of bank branches at international borders for direct deposits and wire transfers, among others.

“The unnecessary taxes have been increasing the prices of the final goods,” said Mr Mathok, noting that individuals found defying the order would be subjected to the strong arm of the law.

Rising rapidly

"We must do everything within the law and not otherwise and we will monitor all of these."

Food and fuel prices have been rising rapidly in the young economy which relies solely on imports from East Africa and her erstwhile partner – Sudan.

The move, if implemented fully, would reduce unnecessary taxes levied on goods at the common entry points mainly from Uganda and Kenya and subsequently lower the prices.

Multiple taxes and high food prices have recently been comfortable scapegoats for political scores among the opposition, with the government using its low-digit age in office as a convenient excuse.

However, the biggest opposition party in parliament, the splinter Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Democratic Change, suffered a heavy blow after its strong cadres, led by the party secretary general quit, accusing the chairman of developing an armed military wing.

"Our chairman has been working against the independence of South Sudan. He did not want it to come under the SPLM. Now he is insisting on a paramilitary wing,” the said former secretary general, Sandra Bona Malwal.
Party chair and former foreign minister for Sudan, Dr Lam Akol, declined to comment although he reportedly dismissed as lies the allegations of a paramilitary wing.
Ms Malwal is the second secretary general to quit the party after disagreeing with Dr AKol on the alleged military wing since the party was formed in 2009.

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