News

Jubek Chamber of Commerce denies extorting money from traders

A trader in a market in unknown location in South Sudan; file photo

An official from the Jubek Chamber of Commerce has denied that the body has been forcefully collecting money from traders in Juba to fund the national dialogue process.

On Tuesday, the National Dialogue Steering Committee said it did ask the national chamber of commerce to raise funds from business people for the initiative.

The contributions were supposed to be voluntary and no fixed amount was to be set.

But it was discovered that the Jubek Chamber of Commerce, which operates under the national chamber of commerce, has been collecting 1000 SSP forcefully from traders in Juba, including tomato sellers.

“What they are saying is not correct. We as the Jubek Chamber of Commerce, we cannot go to the market and collect money from people without any reason,” said Robert Pitia, the Secretary General of the body.

He said the National Dialogue Steering Committee did not specify any category of traders for the fundraising.

Mr Pitia argued that the chamber of commerce only requested for money from traders but they had a choice to pay any amount.

“This is a fundraising campaign. It is not compulsory. But what we did is to categorize it. If someone wants to pay higher than that one, it is up to him. And if someone wants to pay lesser than one, it is up to him.”

The National Dialogue Committee also presented a copy of a receipt from a trader who was charged the amount.

But Mr. Pitia said it was for the purpose of accountability.

The official said due to the accusation, they have stopped the fundraising and opened an account where they are keeping the money.

President Salva Kiir initiated the dialogue in 2016 as means of uniting and reconciling the people after years of a brutal conflict since December 2013.

Last year, Kiir said the government allocated a sum of 2.4 billion South Sudanese Pounds for the process.

It is not clear whether the amount was released or not.