Inflation alarms traders in Juba

Commercial activities being carried at Konyo-Konyo market/Photo: Bida Elly

By Bida Elly David

Markets in Juba over the weekend were shaken by inflation as traders remained astonished by the continued multiple taxes levied on their enterprises by tax agencies.

Foreign and domestic traders yesterday said that the persistent inflation that remained alarming in the market was due to numerous tariffs enacted on their goods by the aggregate tax authorities at all levels in the Country.

This came following a series of complaints by final consumers over the increase in prices of essential food items in the market during the festive season of Easter.

In an interview with No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper, John Mugisha, a foreign trader specialised in selling food items in Konyo-Konyo market said the multiple taxes levied on their enterprises by different tax agencies have made their businesses to incur unpredictable losses within a short duration and the only remedy for this burden was to increase prices to get a positive difference.

“Most of the business people in the market here are tired of the collection of money from them by different groups of people who say that they are from the government. The City Council charges us every day and every month, the National Revenue Authority also come with their group collecting money from us. The Islamic Council in Konyo-Konyo here also charge us for rent,” John said.

John said that unless reformation of regulations concerning tax collection by the government is accomplished; traders will never refrain from increasing prices of goods since no enterprise would be willing to run businesses on losses.

“We need government to look into this horrible situation where taxes are levied by different institutions making market imbalance,” he added.

Regina Poni, a regular customer in Juba town pointed out that the inconsistent inflation will result to complete starvation and destitution of most families in Juba.

“The abnormal increase of commodity prices will result to starvation of many. One Kilogram of meat has skyrocketed to 3,400 SSP and 50 Kg of maize flour exceeded from 18,000 to 19,500 and other factors remain constant,” Regina said.

She urged speedy intervention of the national and state Chambers of Commerce as well as heads of trade and businesses’ unions to evaluate the problems and find amicable solutions to the market before it is jeopardised.

In his part, Robert Pitia the Chairperson of Central Equatoria State Chamber of Commerce said that the uncontrollable skyrocketing of prices of goods in the market was due to imbalance in demand and supply, insecurity and political instability, foreign policies on trade where factories shoot prices at international level.”

“When demand of goods by consumers becomes high and supply gets low, definitely inflation takes over and the local currency loses value. The current inflation is also because most foreign factories in Kenya and Uganda that merchants buy goods from increased prices also by 10% due to high cost of materials they buy at international level” Pitia said.

Furthermore, Pitia underscored that rise in prices of goods occurs due to lack of government capacity to implement some laws since the Country depends fully on foreign imports.

“South Sudan mostly imports her goods from foreign countries thus government does not have the capacity to implement some laws in regard to imports since the country is fully depending on imports,” Pitia said.

Pitia suggested that for market to reach equilibrium level, government should address demand and supply problems by promoting domestic enterprises through tax exemptions.

“Inflation problems can be reduced if government promotes domestic industries by exempting them from paying taxes as well as solving employment issues where foreigners dominate positions in most institutions resulting to cash outflow thus making the economy to recess,” Pitia suggested.

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