Traditional chiefs in Jonglei say they are being forced by the local government to implement a local order that requires them to collect head tax on every native, including those living outside the state.
In March last year, the state legislature passed the Social Services Tax Act, where an individual is tasked to pay 300 Pounds annually.
The collection, according to the Act, is aimed at delivering social services such as school and health facilities to the locals.
It tasks the chiefs with the role of collecting the money from all, including those in the IDP camps, towns and overseas – a move the state youth defy, saying it has no basis.
However, chiefs who spoke to Eye Radio say they are in a dilemma since they find it difficult to reach those in IDP camps in Eastern Lakes, coupled with resistance from the youth.
“We are asking people in Eastern Lakes [Mingkaman] and those in Juba to pay. but the youth have refused to pay,” Alier Aluong, a chief in greater Bor, who has been ordered to collect from everyone, including “soldiers, working class, police” who come from his area.
“We cannot force them but we will try to let those ones here pay.”
For his part, Chief Ajang Duot, from Kongor area says: “Now there are no people within and this is because of insecurity. There is still fear within the villages.”
“I’m sure if there is peace, the people will pay,” he added.
However, the minister of local government – Dut Achuek – threatened the chiefs with serious consequences should they fail to collect and hand over the taxes.
“Penalties are very clear in the act, so, we will implement. If it is the chiefs that are not willing to go and collect the taxes from the subjects, then penalties will be applied,” he warned.
The Transitional Constitution stipulates that states shall legislate for raising revenue or collecting taxes from sources, including state land and property tax and royalties; service charges for state services; licenses issued by the state; and any other tax as may be determined by law.
But it’s not clear if taxing people who are originally from Jonglei but are currently living in Australia, Juba or Mingkaman IDP camp is in conformity with the law.