JUBA — South Sudanese traders in Juba have expressed disaffection with the multiply taxation and arbitrary levies imposed on their business by government agencies.
The taxes and levies were introduced by the Juba City Council, National Revenue Authority, and Civil Defense and Criminal Investigation Department of the Ministry of Interior.
The unnecessary taxes include ground rent, security fee, collection fee, general service fee, service fee, rental income fee, CID fee, government property charge fee, national and state Revenue Authority fee, Fire Brigade certificate fee, mayor fee, waste collection fee and among others.
Everline Atieno, a local trader at Sub Libya in Munuki said they were unburdened with different types of levies and taxes which is affecting their business.
“The authorities of Juba City double taxes if they see you are a foreigner, they don’t care whether you can afford the taxes or not, as long as you are foreign, you are forced to pay,” Atieno claimed.
She decried the high cost of doing business in Juba amid the economic challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is very hard now to pay rent and heavy taxes imposed on us by city authorities since our businesses have been badly affected by COVID-19.”
Multiple taxations are worrisome, especially to petty traders like Majak Mabior who owned small shops in Rock City and Mauna Markets.
It has become more expensive for traders like Mabior to do business in Juba due to unnecessary charges imposed on their businesses by government agencies.
He said that authorities of Juba City Council have gone as far as charging traders 50,000 SSP for an empty bottle of water found near the shop.
“If one bottle of water is found near your shop, you are fined 50,000 SSP and if they are two bottles, it is 100,000 SSP.”
“If the mayor of Juba City Council is a businessman and 10 bottles of water are found outside his shop, would he be able to pay 500,000?”
Another trader named Mayen Akol Mayen said traders are still counting losses following the demolition exercise carried out by authorities of the Juba City Council early this month.
Several structures were demolished and continue to be demolished by Juba City Council, leaving some traders stranded.
Most traders especially women and students vendors were left with no means of survival after they were forced out of the street by a government agency.
“Some of our traders have lost some of their prosperities such as phones and money during the demolition drive in Juba Town. One trader lost the sum of 28,000 U.S dollar when his shop was demolished.”
Robert Pitia Francis, Chairman of Central Equatoria State Chamber of Commerce, a body that safeguards business interest in Juba, acknowledged that the business sector has become unfavorable for traders in Juba.
“Without business community, the government will get taxes and citizens will not get services. The business community is playing important role in nation-building.”
Francis urged traders to be patient to allow him to meet with concerned authorities imposing unnecessary taxes on their business.
“As State Chamber of Commerce, we are going to meet with concerned bodies and reach compromise in order to create a conducive environment for doing in Juba.”