20 March 2013 - The Upper Nile government had agreed that humanitarian aid would be free from taxation in the state, a top UNMISS official said in the capital Malakal today.
“Public funds that come from donor countries to finance the projects of NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) or UN Agencies, or indeed UNMISS, cannot be taxed and we have reached an agreement on that,” said Deputy Special Representative to the Secretary-General (DSRSG) Toby Lanzer.
The DSRSG was speaking to the media at the end of a two-day visit to Malakal after meeting with Upper Nile Governor Simon Kun Puoch and his Council of Ministers. The DSRSG was accompanied by a delegation of five people from USAID, ECHO NGO Network and his Juba office.
The previous day, the DSRSG had met with UN agencies and NGOs who raised concerns about the state’s growing number of checkpoints and random taxation of humanitarian aid, including food and medicine.
Governor Puoch said his government would end the taxation, adding that it would also provide escorts for humanitarian aid convoys to specific areas of concern.
“All the UN and NGO vehicles moving on the roads and barges moving in the river within the state will not be touched, and we will provide escorts, especially to the areas where we feel humanitarian activities and service delivery to our people will be obstructed,” Mr. Puoch said.
The governor added that his government would prosecute anyone caught taxing humanitarians, be they police, military or ordinary people.
The meeting had also focused on the security situation and development opportunities in the state, the DSRSG said. “The governor confirmed to me that security has improved very much and the population is now feeling safe.”