By Philip Thon Aleu
June 1, 2011 (BOR) – Jonglei state’s legislative assembly passed a new land fees bill, rental income and fuels taxes on Tuesday with a huge increment in the amount that will be paid for residential and commercial plots in the state capital Bor.
- Jonglei state governor Kuol Manyang Juuk (L) and JSLA Speaker Peter Chol Wal at a gaurd of honor at the opening of state assembly in Bor, ahead of South Sudan’s referendum on independence. Dec. 14, 2010 (ST)
Peter Chol Wal, the speaker of Jonglei state parliament, justified the move saying that the government have no other sources of revenue to boost the state finances. Under the new scheme land buyers in Bor will pay 3,000 Sudan Pounds (SDG) – around US $1,000 - for a 35 by 30 meter residential plot and 22,500 SDG [about US $7,500] for a 30 by 15 meters commercial plot.
“It was necessary to increase the fee because [the government] wants to produce title deeds [for plots owners]; which is [a] land list,” said Chol.
The land bill also indicates that residential plots in Payam (districts) and Boma (sub-districts) headquarters will be surveyed and leased out at cheaper rates than in the state’s capital.
According to the land fees bill, residential plots are charged by different grades. First class plots of 1,050 square meters will cost 3,000 SDG. Second class plots of 750 square meters will cost 1,200 SDG, up from the previous rate of 240 SDG. Third class plots of 500 square meters will cost 400 SDG, up from from 180 SDG before the bill was passed.
A commercial plot of 64 square meters remains at 3,200 SDG, while what the land bill describes as super market plot of 750 meters now stands at 22,500 SDG. Land bought as an investment will now cost 125,000 SDG, about US $41,000, per 2,500 square meter plot.
RENTAL INCOME AND FUEL TAXES
Alongside land bill fees, the assembly also passed rental income taxes where home owners will pay 5 percent of rental fees as taxes. Fuel sellers will pay 5 percent of selling prices as taxes to the government.
The bill, proposed by Jonglei state government, was passed overwhelming by members of state assembly on Tuesday in the final sitting of the second session before breaking for recess on Wednesday June 1.
Speaker of the Jonglei assembly, Chol Wal told the Sudan Tribune that the traditional three months assembly recess has been reduced to one month in move to make lawmakers available in Bor when South Sudan’s independence celebrations will be held on July 9, 2011.
South Sudan’s state assemblies commonly open and close in three month cycles. Lawmakers say this is to allow MP’s to spend time in the areas they represent.
South Sudanese voted to secede from the north in January, 2011 referendum in accordance with a 2005 peace accord that ended decades of south-north civil war.
There were mixed reactions from Bor residents on land fees bill. Some describes it as a move to give land to highly paid government employees and deny landlords their rights.
“Because the members of parliament receive huge pay, they want everyone who cannot afford to quit the town,” said Jok, a Bor town resident. “They (MPs) want to distribute the land to themselves,” he added.
“All of us shall face consequences. The MPs occupy large land, we in the commercial and in first class plots don’t have land titles and the ball is now on own side,” Jacob Gai, who owns a commercial plot of 10,000 square meters told Sudan Tribune.
The bill does not, however, cater for wide commercial plots beyond 2,500 meters squared and it some fear that lodges sitting on plots of the size 40,000 square meters may loss some of their land.
Other residents welcomed the land fees bill as an agent for town-to-village migration.
“They are targeting the increasing rural-urban migration,” said Bor resident Chol Deng. “If you are unable to buy a plot in Bor [the capital of Jonglei state], you can try at Payam or Boma headquarters. That is great,” Chol added.