Opinion

The Communist Party of South Sudan

Political Statement

The Transitional National Legislative Assembly has come to the end of its deliberations on the National Budget 2017/2018 at the end of last August.

The Minister of Finance, in his attempts to justify the deficit in the budget, complained of poor financial revenues. This complaint is not new. Each new minister who took up the position repeated it. Surely the current Minister of Finance, like his predecessors, did not suffer the efforts to look for the root causes and find solutions to the lack of financial revenues. This is not a difficult problem to solve, but one that can easily be overcome and bypassed. The problem lies within the State that is not producing.

 

Firstly, the State is without any agricultural projects and lacks Agro-Industrial projects. South Sudan is a State with no plans to introduce the huge animal wealth into the macroeconomics. It satisfies itself only with declaring policies, strategies and programs and does not grasp the leading role in the national economy that is a central task for every good State. For that reason, the country possesses no exports, except oil. It is not able to solicit any hard currency apart from the proceeds of petroleum. Hence South Sudan depends on single source of revenue, hindered by low production and characterized risky upheavals in the international market.

Secondly, the State apparatus, especially that of Sovereignty and Security, drains most of the surplus which is supposed to be directed to the provision of basic services such as Health, Education, Roads, Electricity and Clean Water, plus creation of jobs to recruit the unemployed graduates.

Although several voices in the Assembly demanded real reduction in the government expenditure in the current budget which may reach 30 percent, nothing happened. Instead, the State apparatus maintained its lavish allocations and managed to keep the most vulnerable and the dejected sons and daughters of South Sudan under the poverty line.

Thirdly, the prolonged and non-transparent transaction of public funds has become a unique characteristic in the State of South Sudan, notorious at the regional and international levels.

These are the reasons behind the poor financial revenues. The Ministers of Finance didn’t put it right since the South Sudanese government was established in 2005 and do not take up the challenge to initiate measures against the problem.

The circumstances under which the budget was presented to the Assembly were exceptionally abnormal. The conditions of the Southern Sudanese citizens have changed from worse to an unprecedented form, particularly in the second half of 2016 and the first half of 2017. Because of the severe suffering, people have become surviving dead bodies.

These conditions of extreme suffering are supposed to be considered in the the making of the budget and its discussion, and not to be isolated from them.  That never happened and so the budget never addressed the issues produced by this new reality. The new budget came like its predecessors, too traditional and repetitive in form and content. The budget did not underscore any priorities. It was empty of any developmental projects and basic services. It limited itself to salaries and State machinery current expenses. As usual the State got the lion’s share in the budget, a long inherited tradition in the budgets since the government of South Sudan was established in 2005, and a tradition which will continue to pass on poverty and underdevelopment to generations after generations, year after year.

This disastrous reality in South Sudan needs a remedial austerity budget to rescue the normal citizens from the claws of hunger instead of running breathlessly after relief food in a country that God has endowed with all the riches.

It underlines the need to stop the extravagant spending, to restrict the unlimited privileges of the ruling class and re-direct every dollar and every pound to what benefits all the people.

The budget talked of developing education. Experiences of the developing countries confirm that investment in Education is key to any national development. The slogan of developing Education has gone with the wind. When only 3% is allocated to it in the budget instead of 10%. Most of this 3% goes to salaries, a fact which threatens the future of Education and the progress of Universities in particular. That dooms prosperity and development of South Sudan.

The status of the health sector is not different from that of education. It was necessary to increase spending on health with no less than 10 percent and circumscribe the priorities in the field of Primary Health Care and Hygiene to enable South Sudan put its feet on the third millennium path, particularly in the field of reducing maternal mortality and below five children mortality. The allocation in the budget was marginally above 3 %. Here the suffering of the Citizens with regards to health will remain in its place. As a result, South Sudan will bring up unhealthy people suffering from hunger and disease simultaneously.

The Minister of Finance demanded that the subsidy on fuel to be lifted to enable him pay salaries on time and to reach the States. He said his Ministry is working to support the relationship with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, forgetting that the salaries he will be paying after the lifting of subsidy on fuel shall never be enough and shall never rid of hunger with inflation approaching 1000 % and the situation of the citizens have deteriorated to an immeasurable extent. How then shall the condition be when subsidy is lifted?

 

And our Minister knows very well what will be the size of the negative impact caused by the increase in the price of the fuel on every thing.  These acts remind us of the Governor of the Central Bank who knew the consequences when he floated the national currency by raising the exchange rate from SSP 2.96 to SSP 18.7 per a Dollar. This Governor is now affirming the exchange rate of SSP 150.5 per a Dollar in the current budget. Because of this, the one pound note is now out of circulation, and the notes 5 and 10 will soon follow.

Here, the assembly refused to allow South Sudan to be turned into a field of experiments to the policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

These policies have badly affected the vulnerable and the poor in our country more than is bearable. The policy of releasing the working force, which in its reality, is the destitution of the Workers and starvation of their families at the time the pay-sheets are full of ghost names. This policy is coupled with no increase in the salaries for more than ten years while hyperinflation continues. Floating the national currency under which persons with limited incomes and even those of middle status are still suffering under its pressure. All these are policies of World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Had the Parliament passed it, the latest policy of lifting the fuel subsidy, would have destroyed the remaining symptoms of life in the country. Nevertheless, affirmation of the exchange rate of more than SSP 150 per US Dollar shall remain a beheading sword on us.

To conclude, the budget of 2017/2018, like its predecessors, is not bearing any good news nor any hope to the people of South Sudan to come out of its overwhelming crisis.

We in the Communist Party, present to the government some practical proposals with the aim of improving financial situation in the country and to be an alternative to the policy of scraping the subsidy on fuel.

Revisit the huge loans taken from the State all along the previous years and which are almost written off as bad debts. Pursue the borrowers and retrieve the money by all means.

Money taken wrongly by 75 responsible persons in the State who were supposed to be the exemplary to others, unfortunately they were lacking ethics and ideals. They are to be shown ideals. The money estimated to be 4.2 Billion US Dollars is to be retrieved also.

The report of the Dura Saga gave an estimated 7 Billion South Sudanese pounds. Although the Parliament referred the case to the Ministry of Justice, no decision was taken. New steps must be taken to mobilize for these moneys and others. These moneys are properties of people of South Sudan. They should not be forfeited whatever time passes. Their retrieval represents an important step in the improvement of financial situation in the country.

The Secretariat Communist Party of South Sudan: Tell 0956909122/0956078743

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