Ministry of Finance should not remove fuel subsidies
By Omuno Mogga Otto
Few days back, the Minister of Finance and Planning Stephen Dhieu renewed his idea about lifting of fuel subsidies.
Mr. Dhieu made his remarks to the press during the occasion marking the 68th Independence anniversary of the People’s Republic of China held last month in Juba. He insisted on lifting fuel subsidies. But I would like to urge the honorable minister not to insist on lifting fuel subsidies.
Since the time the local currency was devaluated against the hard currency in 2015, fuel crisis heightened and fuel shortages continue to dominate headlines in local media.
In 2015, the period when Mr. Dhieu was still the Minister of Petroleum, the fuel crisis was the same scenario as of today. In fact, the proposed idea of lifting fuel subsidies was drafted by Mr. Stephen Dhieu to the Transitional National Legislative Assembly. But the Members of Parliament rejected the proposal.
From 2015 up to date, the national capital Juba and other towns in the country have been hit by fuel crisis. Many people are not getting fuel at petrol stations. Since the fuel crisis began in 2015 up to today, fuel business has changed.
It has become difficult for the private sector to operate because the agency which is responsible for supplying fuel to the petrol stations is not doing enough due to corruption.
Sometimes the distribution of fuel goes to less than seven petrol stations in a week in the city. In reality, the bigger amount of fuel is being deviated from where it is supposed, and then diverted to the direction of black market.
The high cost of living brought by the high inflation in the market has encouraged many people to engage in the business of selling fuel in black market.
I don’t think much money from the government is going for fuel subsidies. The reason is because what the Ministry of Finance is suggesting is different from reality.
I believe the quota of fuel subsidies will not affect the reality that led to delay in payment of salaries of civil servants. Civil servants are going for more than four months without salaries. This is very bad indeed, and it is inhuman!
During the time when David Deng Atorbei was the Minister of Finance, fuel crisis was there as well. What is the different between that era and the present time where the Ministry of Finance is putting the excuse of delay on payment of salaries on a single thing called fuel subsidies?
Let us be realistic, transparent and selflessly and do the right thing and have mercy on others. I am sure the basic problem of delay in payment of the wages of the civil servants is somewhere.
Fuel subsidies alone cannot affect the payment of the salaries of civil servants. There is need for a proper system to brush off or minimise corruption. It is not known where the oil money is exactly being kept?
The collection of non-oil revenue plus the revenue from our crude oil is enough to pay the salaries of the civil servants on time if the system is transparent. Part of it is enough to be added on the fuel subsidies. Where is the non-oil revenue going?
Our people are suffering from the current economic crisis. It is affecting their lives. The economic crisis which is dominated by high inflation in the market is the biggest problem.
People want the exchange rate to drop so that the prices of food commodities in the market reduce. The high inflation is the cause of all these crises. Any attempt of lifting fuel subsidies will exacerbate economic situation in the county and majority of the population will suffer.