November 14, 2013 (NIMULE) – On a visit to the border state of Eastern Equatoria, South Sudan’s cabinet minister claimed on Wednesday that 80% of the tax revenue collected from vehicles entering from Uganda is pocketed by customs officials.
- Eastern Equatoria State in red (in pink the Ilemi Triangle which is disputed with Kenya)
Minister Martin Elia Lomoro made the statements after his delegation held a close-door meeting with customs migration officials in Nimule, the state capital.
According to the minister, who is visiting the Eastern Equatoria with South Sudan’s vice president James Wani Igga and interior minister Aleu Ayieny Aleu, the meeting was “very open and the messages went home."
During the press briefing, minister Lomoro admitted that the state of the parking areas at the border crossing were “shame[ful]” and pledged a swift response from the central government.
However, he added that the poor infrastructure "does not explain why 80% of the money is being pocketed by customs officers.”
"While we see more vehicles coming into South Sudan, we don’t think we are getting the right amount of revenue being collected from those vehicles that are bringing goods,” said Lomoro said.
Customs officials who attended the meeting said challenges such lack of equipment like weighbridges, scanning machines and the poor state of the parking yard in Nimule hugely contributed to low tax collection.
Customs officials, however, claim that senior government officials are also guilty of customs malpractice.
"When a car is smuggled into the country and a suspect is caught, it is the senior [government] officials who come in and order the release of the suspected smugglers,” a customs officer, requesting anonymity, told Sudan Tribune.