By Bida Elly David
National Ministry of Trade denies allegations by parliament of permitting foreign traders to run retail businesses in South Sudan.
The lawmakers had last week summoned the trade minister over the domination of retail enterprises by foreign merchants in South Sudan.
The motion focused much on established shops in residential areas, highways, retail cloth businesses, and water, among others.
In defense, Mr. Kuol said his ministry has never issued any trading license for foreign merchants to partake in retail businesses on highways and residential areas in Juba.
According to Kuol, his docket is only mandated to regulate imports and exports.
“Let me make it very clear: our mandate is to regulate imports and exports. All businessmen and women coming to our office to request goods from outside have to pay for an import license,” he said.
He said that the National Ministry of Trade only plays the role of a comprehensive assessment of general trade documents to permit traders to process import and export licenses.
“We have three levels of government in South Sudan controlling trade: the national, state, and local governments,’’ he said.
The minister added that when a foreigner who wants to trade in South Sudan, is first issued a certificate of investment, then referred to the state for an operation license and to the national for a trade license.
Mr. Kuol reasons that the financial act mandates the ministry to issue the two licenses for traders who want to import goods.
Kuol supported the motion of the August House on the nationalization of retail businesses to enable locals to improve their standards of living through little earnings.
But the minister highlighted that the national government cannot intrude into business affairs that can be run by the governments at the local level, saying that they only regulate.
He cautioned the parliament against blaming the National Ministry of Trade, noting that the question of intrusion into street retail business should be referred to the city council as an institution at the local level.
“All foreign shops along roads and in residential areas in Juba are being licensed by the city council and given operation licenses by the Central Equatoria State government,” he said.
However, Mr. Kuol said his ministry does not have any funding for supporting local traders to run petty enterprises, noting that national have the mandate to do businesses in their own country but not aliens.
He suggested for the country to restore its economic position, necessitating the government to issue subsidies for local traders to import goods from abroad and sell them to consumers at cheaper prices.