Traders obnubilate fines with taxes: Juba City Council
By William Madouk Garang
Juba City Council (JCC) Deputy Mayor for Administration & Finance Solomon Pitia has revealed on Saturday that most traders confuse paying well-defined taxes as enshrined by laws with paying fines as required by public order if the business center was found to be messy.
This was a reaction towards allegation raised by traders accusing Juba City Council for allegedly collecting exorbitant levies which affected their businesses and spring up the prices.
Some business owners told media earlier that they were forced to pay SSP 7,000 as a fine for an empty bottle of water found in front of their shops or kiosks while others were directed to pay mayor fee, garbage collection fee, and sanitation fee among others which amounts to hundreds of pounds.
During a press conference over the weekend, Pitia told journalists that some traders confused taxes collection which were occasional with money that they paid as fine for breaking public orders rules and regulations.
“Taxes are collected once, some are within six months, three months and some are within a year. So, there must be a differentiation between taxes and fines and that is where people (traders) get it wrong. Because when you are fined they say no this is tax, that is not taxes because taxes are well-defined,” Pitia said.
He explained that the only thing that goes beyond are the fines because fines are not defined like what is called public order.
“Let me be very clear on issue of taxes, we have laws that guide us, we have Red Schedule and by-laws that guide us when we go to collect taxes. There is nothing that can be taken outside those laws, Pitia stressed.
He also advised business people to master and own these two vital books ‘the Red Schedule and By-laws’ and own it so that they would not be cheated in case somebody wanted to overcharge them.
“Sometimes you can be manipulated because you are ignorant of the law. So you (traders) are supposed to have that law and you have to master it, nobody will cheat you because if somebody comes and say pay SSP 50,000, you will tell him it’s supposed to be like that,” he pointed.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Mayor for Infrastructural Development, Thiik Thiik said Juba City was like any other institutions they were not all angels but if at all there was any over-charging then let the accuser come up with evidence.
“ this is an institution, it’s like you are have a kids in the house you can have ten kids but not all of them who can be good there must be one person who bad among them. it’s not all the institution of Juba City Council which is corrupt there are some individual in side whereby if we are really South Sudanese and want to develop this country you come with evidence that this person is overcharging me,” Thiik said.
On Thursday last week, Central Equatoria State Chamber of Commerce had for the second time threatened to sue City Council to court after it received multiples of complaints from traders in Juba over excessive taxes and penalties.