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Doubts if Gov’t will audit Oil firms

By John Agok

The Civil Society group leaders cast doubts on the tangible outcome from the set up oversight Committee tasked by the Presidential Order to audit the Oil operating Companies in the Country.

Activists welcomed the move as the first ever in the country but doubt credibility of this comprehensive Audit plan outcome. They questioned the very initial process of bidding contract to all oil firms that are now drilling in South Sudan. They said, the selection made to bring on board these oil companies was not transparent in the first place, so how could this oversight committee formed in rush bear truthful and transparent report.

RajabMohandis, the Executive Director Organization for Responsive Governance and a chairperson representing CSO to the R.JMEC cautioned the oversight Committee members tasked to audit oil companies not to be politically driven or bribed but should play their high integrity and grill over Oil firms without fear or favor.

Mr. Mohandis called on National legislators to be the ones to spearhead the process not to wait for international body like UNSC giving government pressure on the matter.

“Oil is the major aspect in our economy and it plays a developmental part in the Country. This needs elements of transparency and accountability for the public domain to know how much oil firms produced and how much has been depositedinto government treasury,” he echoed.

He also counted on challenges in environmental impact in oil production places that devastated the health of people working with firms and those living around such areas. It is really a worrying situation for the livelihoods that need to be addressed quickly,” he added.

Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director for CEPO welcomed the government move to held Comprehensive Audit plan for the first time.

“We appreciate the President in appointing this committee to review this Oil firms over Environmental aspect, Financial and Production cost as well. The environmental pollution is overwhelmingly in those places. It is the role of the government to hold responsible these companies to compensate the damages caused by their productions than capitalizing  only on profit made”, he explained.

Yakani called on UNSC and government to ban and sanction oil firms that are reluctant to compensate or pay for damages caused by oil exploration.

“I urge the international body or government to sanction these companies meddling in the Oil production without observing Environmental guidelines,” he said.

Mr. JameDavid Kolok, the Executive Director for Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance (FODAG) got surprised on the rush formation of oversight Committee tasked to audit the Oil firms which they have already selected as government in a process that doubt transparency in the first place.

“We are very inquisitive in swift move by the government to set up the Committee that will investigate the misappropriation and diversion of oil money expected to be deposited in Bank of South Sudan (BOSS). But this came after UNSC call for it, and livelihoods generally is at risk in Oil producing places and such companies are not held accountable”, he underscored.

Kolok said they are not optimistic on the outcome of this audit and the selection of these oil firms carried no transparency already.

“We do not expect transparency and accountability in the outcome of this Government Comprehensive Audit Plan”, he concluded.

Meanwhile, the Undersecretary in the Ministry of Environment Mr. Joseph AfricanoBartel revealed that, he is recently appointed into the oversight committee to oversee specifically the environmental guidelines supposedly to guide all operating oil companies in the Country. These Oil firms are expected to submit in annual report to our Ministry for them to be notifiedwith letter of no objection, unfortunately, these companies do not follow that”, he explained. 

Africano disclosed that, they are doing research on social impact assessment to determine the environmental impact caused by these Oil firms during the production. He also noted that, they are guided by (2016 – 2026) environmental policy and they are yet to get the baseline from Oil companies prior to auditing and find out the level of impact since its exploration.

On Monday, the government held meeting with oil firms and partners in regards to the comprehensive audit plan on environmental audit, financial and production cost in a bid to determine transparency and accountability. This evaluation will enhance the government to do some adjustment and add in the level of reforms.

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