In a significant policy reversal, the government of South Sudan has responded to a UN appeal and reversed its decision to impose taxes and fees on humanitarian services and products.

However, Titus Osundina, the UN Development Programme’s deputy resident representative for South Sudan, told VOA that questions remain because some private suppliers and companies that provide services to the UN may still be taxed."We need to see how that clarifies,” Osundina said.

South Sudan's Finance minister explained in a press release that while UN humanitarian organisations and diplomatic missions are tax-exempt, companies contracted by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) are not exempt because they are "profit-making entities" and are subject to taxes under the agreement the mission originally signed with South Sudan.

Read: Fuel tax blocks aid to hunger-ravaged South SudanAs South Sudan's largest humanitarian agency, UN conducts crucial air drops, feeding more than 16,300 people monthly, especially in regions grappling with food insecurity, conflict and natural disasters.

With nearly half the country's population facing acute food shortages and the looming threat of floods, the UN stressed that new taxes would have added $339,000 to the UNMISS monthly operational costs, affecting food and humanitarian assistance operations.

No figures have been released about how much the new taxes will cost the UN contractors.

Timo Olkkonen, who heads up the European Union delegation to South Sudan, one of the major international donors to the African country, said agencies need ample time and resources to prepare and deliver relief assistance.“We encourage all the stakeholders to resolve this issue so that the fuel and other essential items will be coming here for the service of the South Sudanese, and so that the humanitarian community and the UN can continue with their lifesaving and peacekeeping work,” Olkkonen said.

The UN's role in ensuring stability in South Sudan ahead of the upcoming national election in December highlights the urgency of resolving this issue promptly. © Copyright 2022 Nation Media Group. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (