State Chamber of commerce cautions traders over illegal tax

By Mary Poni

The Central Equatoria State Chamber of commerce has cautioned traders in Konyo-Konyo disputed market, warned against accepting tax duplication by the city council and Islamic council as the two institutions battle for ownership of the ground rent fees.

The warning to the traders came as a reminder to the Juba city mayor who earlier issued a local order banning any activities of illegal collection of money in the market area in question including Islamic council which claimed to be the rightful owner of the place.

The local government issued the local order No. 11/2022 dated 17th of August, and the local order was issued to restrict revenue collection in the markets, however, only the government institutions and agents are authorized to do so.

The chairperson for chamber of commerce, industry and agriculture, Robert Pitia Francis together with the chairperson of Juba city chamber of commerce, industry and agriculture Stephen Wani briefed the media outlets yesterday in Juba.  

Based on the order, the Islamic council is not in position to collect tax from the traders because it will become a disaster for the traders as well as the citizens in the city, said the chairperson of Juba city chamber of commerce, industry and agriculture Stephen Wani.

According to Stephen, if the Islamic council still feels like they have the right to all the places, they are supposed to sue the administration of Juba city council because city council has already issued a local order against their activities at Kony-Konyo market.  

He said that it was the final resolution of the court after the two antagonistic parties battled in the court for a long time as it was the representative of Juba city council and Khalid Juma representing Islamic council.

He said according to the court resolution, the case is to be ruled out because the nature of the case is criminal case which is not civil case.

The chairperson of central Equatoria State Chamber of Commerce, industry and agriculture, Robert Pitia Francis echoed that the issues of tax collections are of great concern, saying the traders facing this challenge especially in Konyokonyo market shouldn’t become victims of the duplications or overlapping collection of double taxes.

Pitia said that there is no way they can pay to the government and at the same time to the Islamic council because the rule from the court stated that it is a criminal case but the nature of it is civil.

He said if one of the two parties wants to proceed, they should go to the civil court.

“All markets in the world are managed by the local government,” said Pitia.

The ruling from the court over the land dispute between the Juba city council and Islamic council stated that the decision of the court did not give the right or the land to Islamic council instead the case was dismissed and the two parties were asked to file a civil case to determine the ownership of the place.

“We will not accept any harassment, intimidation or collection of money from the traders in the disputed areas,” Pitia echoed.

The State chamber of commerce chairperson urged all traders in the market not to sign any agreement from the Islamic council so that there would be no obligations.

“You have to sign the agreement with somebody who is the real owner of the place. If any place has a dispute, you will have to wait for the court to decide as who the right owner of the place is,” he cautioned traders.

He asked the traders to pay no monthly rental fees until the case is legally determined by court.

Pitia reiterated that nobody has right to intimidate, harasses or extract money from the businessmen in all the markets.

“Market is not a place for disturbing people but rather for serving people and the government is responsible for the market,” he noted.

He said the security organs imposed by the Islamic council to execute their agenda should respect the order from the city mayor banning any collection activities and once they are caught, they will face the law.

Robert Pitia encouraged city council to work hard in order to put to rest the issue of the land disputes in Konyo-Konyo market.  

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