Business companies warned over illegal loans
By Elia Joseph Loful
The South Sudan National Chamber of Commerce has warned some companies over lending “illegal” loans to business people.
Ladu Lukak Legge, the First Deputy Chairperson of South Sudan Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture said the practice has become too exorbitant to the citizens, describing it as “cancer that is eating up the country’s economy.”
“The illegal business we are talking about is usury and it is only practiced by a few number of individuals in the country. And we are calling upon those who are involved to stop immediately,” Lukak said.
He was speaking to journalists during a press conference at the Chamber of Commerce office on Thursday in Juba.
Lukak said the Chamber of Commerce was working hard towards instituting legal procedures with other relevant authorities to ensure that the business companies who are practicing usury are held accountable.
“We are now planning to have a joint effort with six institutions such that we can address this issue as soon as possible and we are warning such people who are practicing usury to stop now,” Lukak said.
He also said the business community appreciated the government and oppositions for their commitment to form the Revitalized Government of National Unity on 12 November.
“We are calling upon the government and the opposition to form the next unity government on time without fail,” Lukak urged.
Meanwhile Simon Akuei Deng, the Secretary-General of South Sudan Chamber of Commerce said the chamber has realized that some unscrupulous business persons and corporations have been engaging in usury over the recent years.
Akuei said that usury is an unethical practice of which the business persons charge unreasonable high rates of interest loans on people who do not know the deal.
He revealed that the institution conducted a research in 2018 where it found out that some 33 businesspersons were imprisoned due to the issue of high-rate interests imposed by the companies giving them the loans.
“To guarantee the money, the lenders sometimes force the borrowers to issue checks. The checks are consequently renewed monthly, and the amounts due in respect of them consequently increase with the passage of time; usury is unethical business practice in light of legal and moral norms and the high rates dues not only affect the individual businesspersons but also the entire society,” he explained.
Mr. Akuei said such unregulated loans were illegal amounting to extortion, fraud, and money laundering.
“The Chamber would like to inform the entire public that such practice is unacceptable and we would like those who are involved in usury to desist from it. We call upon the relevant public authorities to take appropriate and immediate steps to end usury in South Sudan,” Akuei stressed.