Home | News    Monday 22 April 2013

N. Bahr el Ghazal arrests over 150 people over household tax

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April 21, 2013 (AWEIL) - More than 150 people from South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal state have been put behind bars allegedly for failing to pay local household taxes, local chiefs and residents said Sunday.

The arrested people are reported to be from all five of the state’s counties and largely consist of widows of those who died during the two-decade civil war that led to South Sudan’s independence in 2011.

Northern Bahr el Ghazal’s finance minister, Madut Santino Deng, told Sudan Tribune that taxes were imposed to close the budget deficit created by the cut in the grants disbursed to the state from Juba.

South Sudan launched austerity measures at all levels of government last year after Juba lost 98% of its revenues when a transit fee dispute with Khartoum led to the young nation halting production for over a year.

After a Cooperation Agreement was signed in September last year, production eventually resumed this month.

“These taxes are being collected to cover budgetary gaps created by the cuts in the grants which we used to get from the national government. I know people are asking us why we are collecting taxes while the oil production has resumed. The resumption of oil had just started and will take several months to get the funds. We do not expect immediate remittances from the oil revenues. This is why we want to cover this deficit from the local resources like the household taxes”, Deng explained.

Minister Deng said 60% of the household tax will go to the counties to support their activities and only 40% of what has been generated will be sent to the state.

“You see the collection has been designed in a way if properly implemented will benefit counties because 60% will remain to them and only 40% will be given to the state to support activities of the government. Much of it will be salaries and other activities, especially day to day activities of the government”, Deng explained.

Lual Dut, a native of Aweil East County told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that over the last week many people, including his own relatives have been arrested on the directives of the county commissioner, Awet Kiir Awet.

“Prisons are full and some of the chiefs are being removed from their positions because of failing to collect taxes from the people", he said.

He attributed the failure of some citizens to pay taxes was due to a decline in income over the last year, pointing out that many of those affected are either war widows or people who have returned from to Sudan in recent years. Many returnees have not been able to cultivate, harvest and sell enough produce to pay the tax, Awet said.

“Some people are being arrested not because they did not want to pay but because they do not have anything to pay. They are poor to the true meaning of being poor. They have nothing to give. Their survival is through kinship. Others depend on assistance from the relatives.

"So is it logical to beg what to eat and the tax. Majority of those who have failed to pay are also widows. They have nothing to eat let alone paying taxes. The government should actually be the one to assist them instead of arresting them. Their husbands died while fighting for this country”, he said.

Garang Mawien Chok, who is also from the area, said he did not like imposition of the taxes on the poor who are supposed to be assisted by the same authorities trying to take money from them.

What the state authorities was doing was "a crime", he said, as it was taking money away from families that would have been spent on food.

Garang Adup, another native of Aweil East, explained that household taxes were collected before the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended the over two decade war of liberation between the North and South, as a of supporting the former rebels - the SPLA.

However, Adup questioned why the household tax had continued after South Sudan’s independence. The SPLA is now the official army of South Sudan and its political wing, the ruling party.

“Frankly speaking, I do not know why these taxes are collected. I am not opposed to collection but what is it that the government does with these taxes. We know people collect these taxes during the war in order to support the SPLA soldiers who were fighting voluntarily but why now since we are already an independent state”, asked Adup.

He accused local authorities of using the tax to line their own pockets.

Bol Mawien Deng, said that his own county - Aweil South - and the other three counties in Northern Bahr el Ghazal were all experiencing the same issue of people being arrested for failing to pay local taxes.

"My brother came to me yesterday asking for assistance so that he could go and pay household taxes. He has been given a date to pay during which he will be arrested if he fail to pay. So he decided to come to me here in Aweil town. He is asking me and I do not have any money because I am not employed. I do not have a job”, he said.

Garang Gop, a native of Aweil West county said his father had already been arrested because he has not paid the taxes for the household late wife.

He questioned why people should pay taxes without it being clear what the money is spent on.

“Taxes are collected for delivery of services but what does this state government do [with] these taxes? We do not see. Just for individuals to enrich themselves with our taxes. This is an unacceptable”, Gop said.

Northern Bahr el Ghazal state’s legislative assembly last year passed an act tabled by the state ministry of finance asking the house to approve the local taxes as the central government was unable maintain its funding levels due to the year long oil shutdown that ended recently.

The bill, which Sudan Tribune has learned did not state a clear reason why the 30 South Sudan pound tax was required from each household.

Aweil East’s Commissioner Awet Kiir Awet is said to have removed two chiefs from their positions, allegedly for failing to collect the taxes in areas under their authority.

(ST)

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  • 22 April 2013 06:01, by Turism

    Hahahaha how can the chiefs and others local people in NBGS have been arrested since austerity measures hit almost everywhere in south Sudan? Where do the think widows and poorers citizens get taxes from? It is a poor decision issued concern authority to arrest the local chief bcoz they are vulnerable which maybe they can’t afford the heavy taxes being force on them! TURISM

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    • 18 June 2013 12:29, by moto

      Hahahaha---you people are you crying or reporting the matter,that is a person you call our king,now let the king show the really colour he has.this was old fashion it should be abolished.currently our citizen need help from government not government to be help by poor people who always struggle to get daily meals.

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  • 22 April 2013 06:25, by Turism

    Con... The taxes which were collected during two decade of civil war ended recently were spent on many issues like foods for work being given to the soldiers as they were fighting enemy but this time after independent what is the money used for? I don’t see any more collection of taxes though people are having resources!

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  • 22 April 2013 07:09, by Jubawe

    OOh my God Local Chief been arrest too, what a corruption country, This is not only corruption but the bush people never see big money like that before, thus why when they see money they start shaking and thinking of shoot and root citizen.

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  • 22 April 2013 07:49, by wang

    Arresting poor because they have nothing to pay to Kiir government is crime against creation and violation of international human right… Kiir doesn’t give a damn or care about us.. He must go!

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    • 22 April 2013 11:21, by Peter Mading

      The Anyanya style is still in practice. Malong Awan has not forgotten how we live during those days. National Legislative Assembly or Kiir has not authorised collection of Household taxes. Housetaxes is not part of austerity measures and State cannot collect taxes at the pretext of delivering Services. If State couldn’t deliver service when oil money was in abundance. How come H-taxes can....?

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      • 22 April 2013 11:26, by Peter Mading

        Governor, Although Kiir Likes you so much don’t be overwhlemed with barbaric ideas to steal money of the widows. You need to release the 150 persons who you arested. You still have enough money to feed your family that is making up 3/4 of the Aweilians Population and still deserve to be re-elected by 2015 and you will die in power because, your extended family will bring u back to post.

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        • 19 June 2013 13:31, by moto

          Thank you very much for your wonderful comments you gave,this time we are going to vote out those who consider their stomach and forgot the common man on the street.Let us think wisely in the coming general election to choose a really leader not a ruler.A leader who can not steal,and lie. this time we are going to choose a leader with fire in the belly and humanity in his heart.

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  • 22 April 2013 16:23, by Kelei

    This arresting of poor widows and local chief is a bad practice Mr Governor where do you think they will get the money while they are not employ,Nbg state is inhabitant by good people unlike other place otherwise they will take a gun to stop your wrong ruling.for how long they will pay this useless taxes since the war stop long time ago.

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  • 22 April 2013 21:54, by steven

    Hopefully the situation will normalize soon. The laws of the country are important and should be respected, but the benefit and prosperity of citizens are equally important.

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