National, News

Queries on oil revenues dominate economic forum

By Bida Elly David


Government officials came under pressure at Juba Economic Forum, on the second day, as participants demanded explanation on oil revenues amidst a severe economic crisis.

Currently, South Sudan grapples with skyrocketing inflation, as a result of the depreciation of the local currency against the US dollar.

The prevailing economic crisis has caused distress among citizens, prompting both authorities and businesspeople to search for solutions.

A fundamental question arising in the minds of many, is what has happened to the billions of dollars in oil revenue received by the government each month? This question took center stage during the discussions at the Juba economic forum on the second day of the event.

Amer Manyok Deng, a representative of the hotel industry and tourism in South Sudan, questioned the government on salary delays despite the recent 400% increment while billions of dollars are generated from the oil industry.

“We need to know where our oil money is being used; if it is being diverted, there is a need for an explanation because people are hungry, salaries have been increased, but civil servants don’t receive it timely,” she said.

Amer argued that South Sudan’s economy would not have been in Limbo when there was proper utilization of the oil revenues.

She maintained that there is no way the government will deny the availability of oil finances for economic stability if there is no self-interest.

Amer further claimed that there is a secret behind hiring foreign investors in the oil sector other than local companies.

She further said no economic impact has been witnessed in South Sudan from foreign oil investments.

“It is very clear that our economy is derailing because South Sudan’s business communities are also not supported to help the country overcome the dilemma,” Amer opined.

She underlined that another reason for the country’s economic failure is the full ownership of the investment sector by foreign investors, casting the blame on the government.

She called on the authorities to prioritize local enterprises for the sake of rebuilding the national economy.

Meanwhile, Aggrey Cyrus Kanyikwa, the Commissioner of Yei River County, stated in his argument that it is not the oil sector alone that will stabilize the economy, despite being the mother of all, saying the non-oil sector does as well.

In his submission, Kanyikwa stated that the South Sudanese economy will be foreign-owned if the country does not maintain its position.

“Our economy will be taken over by foreign countries; it is not difficult to improve our economy if infrastructure is put in place,” he said.

In a rebuttal, Dr. James Wani Igga, the vice president for economic cluster, downplayed the oil revenue management questions directed to the authority.

Dr. Igga claimed that the falling economy is not due to mismanagement of oil revenues and financial resources but to poor sales of the country’s crude oil in the international market and corruption in the non-oil sector.

“From the oil, we spend most of it on salaries, which is not enough; our salaries for civil servants, including the army, are almost $80 million monthly because of the increment,” he partly explained the oil money expenditures.

“What we get from the oil is not enough and does not reach this amount yet. After that little, we must also put something on the roads because, without roads, even the food that we are talking about cannot be brought,” he continued.

The economic cluster vice president, in his presentation, urged people to desist from putting focus on the oil sector, saying much needs to be done in the non-oil sector.

Igga blames corruption at the border as another contributor to the stagnant economy.

“The non-oil revenues are affected by these criminals; it is a long list.” At the checkpoints, we did punish a number of people; we even arrested and dismissed some of them,” he added.

VP Igga further accused traders of playing a role in the on-going economic turmoil, saying they have taken advantage of the salary increment to raise commodity prices.

The vice president urged traders to compromise with consumers through price minimization while the government exerts efforts to mend the economy.

He also called upon investors to show interest in different areas of investment across the country.

Dr. Igga said income generated from the oil sector won’t help rescue the on-going economic recession South Sudan faces.

Meanwhile, John Bosco, a representative of East African investors at the forum, advised the government to boost a joint border stop to enable collaboration among businesses.

He said that with coordination through foreign and domestic traders, issues of inflation will be mitigated.


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