December 10, 2013 (BENTIU) - East African foreigners trading in Unity state claim they are being taxed three times higher than local businesses when the goods enter Bentiu and Rubkotna county.
Because of the poor road network and regular flooding, most traders, including foreigners, in Unity state import goods from the capital, Juba, through the White Niles river, a journey that can take more than two weeks.
Mercy Mayawun, a Uganda business woman in Bentiu town, says that Unity state officials overcharge her and that her concerns raised at the state and county levels have not been acted upon.
She said that "taxation is a big problem" because, despite assurances, their goods are being taxed multiple times; on the border with Uganda; the Unity state border; and between counties.
Mayawun says the taxes are causing traders to loose profits and urged local officials to cut unnecessary taxation for both foreign and South Sudanese business owners.
Monday Edward, a business man from Kenya, says he has faced intimidation from officials after refusing to pay unnecessary taxes after goods have already arrived in the country.
"There is no limitation for money, they just charge it and if you refuse they put you inside", said Edward.
According to South Sudan’s 2009 taxation act, which was amended in 2012, taxes on international borders are to be collected by the custom staffs. The custom services are supposed to collect excise tax, sale tax and income tax on behalf of the National Directorate of Taxation.
South Sudan’s acting Director for national taxation, Zechariah Par Gew, says that some taxes are supposed to be collected a state-level but customs on imported goods should only be collected on international borders.
Custom officers who demand customs taxes in markets were violating the law, he said.
"The right people that are supposed to collect are national taxation office and the state revenue authority because there are some taxes that belong to the state. But in case of the custom they are suppose to be at the border point not inside the state, when they are collecting inside the state they against the law”, added Gew.
Gew said tax payers had the right to raise concerns in order to correct mistakes committed by both the national taxation office and the customs office.
Simon Guot Maper an officer from the national taxation office in Rubkotna county admitted that the customs office should be on the border not within the state.