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POWER-Struggle mars business sector

By Gilo Jr. Okwata and Wek Atak Kacjang

Tussle, Power struggle and confusion have emerged between the two leading business representatives on who is legally mandated to oversee and map out development in the sector.

On Monday, the Central Equatoria State Chamber Commerce, Industry and Agriculture raised an alarm and complained against the South Sudan General Business Community and Employer’s Federation over illegal collection of money and disturbing traders by forcefully demanding each trader to pay 15,000 SSP across the markets in the country.

In an exclusive interview with Juba Monitor yesterday, the First Deputy Chairman of National Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture Losidik Lukak Legge stood by the State Chamber of Commerce Complaint and reiterated the claims that ‘illegal collection of money’ by General Business Community and Employers Federation Union in the country should stop because it is not within their mandate.

“This kind of illegal collection which was carried on traders should be stopped. The collection is supposed to be the work of State Chamber of Commerce not Business Federation in the State.  The State Chamber of Commerce is a third-party voice on important business legislation that impact the business community and are critical in shaping legislation in their respective state,” Lukak asserted.

He stated that the SSBEF should deal with bigger companies which employ over fifty and beyond rather than concentrating on small business persons who barely survive due to economic crisis in the country.

He added that State Chambers work to represent the voices of entire business community to enhance and advocate for a better business environment.

Responding to State Chamber’s earlier statement, the President of South Sudan General Business Community and Employers’ Federation, Ayii Duang Ayii fired back at the chamber’s leadership, claiming that SSBEF was within its mandate to legally collect the registration fee from any trader as it is the umbrella of all players in the business sector.

“State Chamber of Commerce has no right to stop my work because Business community is umbrella of all sectors. It is my duty to carry out the work that deals with business community. No one is going to stop me because I was given the go ahead by all institutions,” Duang said.

Ayii provided a troupe of documents from almost every highest office in the land to justify why his union had to do what he purportedly claimed has been legally mandated to.

The documents availed to Juba Monitor included among others, a letter dated 25th September, 2019 from the Director General, Internal Security Bureau, National Security Service, Lt Gen. Akol Koor Kuc, stating that;

“This is to inform all those concerned that South Sudan Business and Employer’s Federation has requested to carryout registration of national and foreign business people in the country,” the letter reads.

All those concerned are hereby requested to give South Sudan Business and Employers’ Federation any Assistance they might stand in need without hindrance,” the letter reads.

Another letter emanated from the Acting chairperson of Committee on Finance and Economic Planning in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) Jonathan J. Kulang dated 13 April, 2018 titled ‘Letter of no objection to collect SSBEF Membership fees.

“Reference to the above-mentioned subject which appeared on the letter dated 11th April, 2018 requesting the committee on finance and economic planning TNLA, to give greenlight to SSBEF to collect USD100 from foreign traders and 7500 SSP from local traders who are members of SSBEF,”

Therefore, on behalf of the committee on finance and economic planning, we hereby approved the request of SSBEF to proceed with the collection of the charges mentioned above,” it reads.

Ayii presented another letter Dated 13th January, 2020 from the Inspector General of Police office signed by IGP Gen. Majak Akec Malok authorizing SSBEF to screen business people.

Reference to the directives from the office of the President and the letter from the office of the Minister of Interior, you are directed to cooperate with the SSBEF for screening business persons in South Sudan. You are to give them all necessary assistance required from you,” the letter states.

Another letter that originated from the Directorate of Civil Registry, Nationality, Passport and Immigration dated 27th December, 2019 and signed by the Director General John Akot Maluth

“Reference to the above-mentioned subject, the of Director General of the Directorate of Civil Registry, Nationality, Passports & Immigration presents its compliments to your esteemed office and honor to inform you that South Sudan Business and Employers’ Federation (SSBEF) we have its members in all NPI States Registration Centres to assist their members in the areas that might concern South Sudan Business & Employers’ Federation in the alien Registration Committee which is taking place in the Country and its States.

Therefore, the office of Director General is requesting your esteemed offices to co-operate with SSBEF in the conduct of Aliens Registration Committee in the Country for foreign business people.

The Office of Director General Directorate of Civil Registry, Nationality, Passports & immigration avails itself of this opportunity to renew to your authorities the assurance of its highest consideration.” 

Again a letter from Acting IGP for CID said

“Reference to the above-mentioned subject, and our letter to IGP dated 6th June, With regards to the same subject matter and his directives therein,

By this letter, you are directed to include the South Sudan Business 8: Employee; Federation membership Certificate as per condition to issuance of CID Letter. No Objection to all Business in accordance to IGPs approval. All business entities are to be informed accordingly.” Signed by Lt Gen. Jackson Elia Hariha, A/IGP for CID.

Note only that, a letter from the Traffic police department said “based on directives from Inspector General of Police South Sudan National Police Service as in the attached letter; you are directed to add South Sudan Business & Employers Federation Stamp duty as one of requirements when licensing or registering commercial vehicles and motorcycles.

The amount to be paid is 10% that will be calculated from the total amount for registration of commercial vehicles and motorcycles. From the Directorate of Traffic Police dated 23rd May, 2019. Maj. Gen. Kon John Akot, the Director General of Traffic Police.

Letter dated 19/07/ 2019 from the Maj. Gen. Akol Ayii Madut the Director for Custom Service also said, “The office Of the Director General of the Directorate of customs presents its compliments to your esteemed office and has the honor to notify you in writing to observe and consider South Sudan Business and Employers’ Federation stamp duty during the clearing of goods at the entry points.

On the 2/12/2019, a letter that originated from the office of the then Minister of Interior, Michael Chiengjiek revealed that “the ministry of interior has the honor to write to your office based on the directives of His Excellency the President of the Republic by authorizing the SSBEF as a focal point for the registration of business men in the country hereby attached the process of screening was already approved by the Ministry of Interior to enable SSBEF go ahead with the registration.

It appeared that some governors are interfering into this process in their states whereby the screening process is the responsibility for SSBEF, therefore to implement the President’s directives; the Ministry of Interior would like to address your government and authorize to cooperate with SSBEF community and to allow them to work smoothly on the screening process. Your usual support for implementation and facilitation of the necessary arrangement for the efficient screening is highly appreciated.

A letter from Acting Chief Executive Officer of Juba City Council, Martin Simon Wani dated 05/01/2021, subject: approval letter for distribution and registration forms to all foreign and national food and building material suppliers in Juba City Council

Reference to the letter dated 26/12/2020 from Ayii Duang Ayii President of SSBEF regarding the Above-mentioned subject.

Therefore, I am writing to your end to allow Hon. Ayii Duang President of SSBEF to distribute the forms for the registration of foreign and national business people who are dealing with the foods and building materials in the markets of Juba City Council. 

However, Lukak dismissed and doubted the authenticity of Ayii’s documents, accusing the SSBEF of forming the union after he (Ayii) was defeated by Dr. Benjamin Bol Mel in the national Chamber of Commerce leadership race. After he was defeated by the current chairperson of the National Chamber of Commerce, he went ahead to form this Business union. Since then, he has been running to every office in this country collecting documents to justify his activities,” Lukak added.

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