An Ethiopian MP is pushing for his government to collect income tax from South Sudanese officials who are being handsomely paid for every single day spent in Ethiopia under the pretext of the IGAD mediated peace talks to resolve the one-year old armed conflict in the world’s newest nation – South Sudan.
According to His Excellency Honorable Namla Gebna, the MP who raised the motion, any amount of money made especially by foreigners on some kind of business in the country must be declared and taxed accordingly.
Senior members of Government of South Sudan delegation to the peace talks in Addis Ababa have been reported to receive up to $2000 per day in allowances and bonuses. With the peace talks dragging on for months now, some of the members only need to be members of the delegation for a little over a year to make and individually pocket one million US dollars.
Speaking to Radio MirayaFM a few days ago, the Minister of Information of the Government of South Sudan Mr. Michael Makuei – who is believed to get $1000 per day on the same assignment – told listeners of the radio station that it is none of their concerns how much they are paid for being members of the negotiating team.
But the authorities in Ethiopia, where a bank executive with a university degree and 10 years of experiences receives approximately 20 US dollars per month in salaries, seem to believe it is their business how much money is being made in their country that the tax man does not know about.
According to the Ethiopian Income Tax Proclamation No, 286/2002, income derived by an entertainer, musician, politician, rebel or sports person from his personal activities must be taxed at a rate of 15%.
If the proposal is enforced and enacted, the government of South Sudan could balance the damage and cover for the deduction by just increasing the daily allowance by up to 30%.
According to insiders in Juba, the highly paid officials had anticipated such a move by Ethiopia and were thus pushing to have the talks moved to Nairobi, Kenya where they have all the comforts of home. Furthermore, they will not need to break from the talks as they will already be with their wives who are mainly stationed in Nairobi.
If the South Sudanese officials refuse to compile, the MP is threatening to have a travel ban imposed on them and criminal charges under Ethiopian law for tax evasion brought against them.
It has been a year since conflict broke out in the world’s newest nation. Months of negotiations have not yet produced any tangible resolutions. The hope for peace are as high as the fears for continuation of the onslaught that continues to claim thousands of innocent lives and destroy the little that was.