August 22, 2016 (JUBA)- South Sudan government has pleaded with countries in the region and the global community to assist is financially to enable to it pay employees and avert a deterioration of humanitarian crisis in the wake of the recent outbreak of conflict.
- South Sudan minister Stephen Dhieu Dau (Getty photo)
"Truth must be said. There is nothing in the treasury. The central bank is empty. It has no money. The little which comes from oil and the non-oil revenues goes for defense and security loans. This leaves nothing to pay employees”, a senior official at the ministry of finance told Sudan Tribune Monday.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said prices of consumer goods and services have increased in the markets because traders from the region fled and others left the country following last month’s fighting between rival forces in the capital, Juba.
This, he said, has forced president Salva Kiir and members of his government to dispatch high level delegation of Transitional Government of South Sudan led by First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai, to start with diplomatic engagement with countries in the region with the hopes the leadership of these countries will in turn sympathize with the government and provide them with financial support.
“The mission being undertaken by the first vice president Taban Deng Gai is to salvage the economic situation as the first priority and the purpose is to let the region know that peace is not dead. Because if peace dead, the international community and the region will not sympathize with the government on the current economic situation," said the official.
He added, "The message of the government and the SPLM—IO leadership under Taban Deng Gai is one, salvaging the economic situation by implementing key provisions of the peace agreement. Now the president has agreed in principle with Taban to expedite integration of SPLA-IO forces and to reopen oil wells in unity and other areas in Upper Nile”.
The third objective, he further explained, is for the leadership of the transitional government of national unity to speak with one voice to the donor community and international financial lending institutions and organisations to provide loans.
Last week, South Sudan’s newly appointed first vice president visited Kenya and held talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta, during which he openly appealed to the Kenyan government to give his country a soft loan to help it deal with its current problems.
“We have been facing difficulties in delivering services to the people and we briefed President Kenyatta about the current economic difficulties the country is facing. We are experiencing severe inflation because of the civil war, poor oil production and the low oil prices, which have basically drained us as we are not making money. We asked Kenya for help so that our economy does not grind to a halt,” said Gai.
The first vice president, who made the remarks during a press conference at the Nairobi Intercontinental Hotel after a meeting with President Kenyatta, requested Kenya’s support for implementation of the peace agreement by the Transitional Government with the current status. This implies exclusion in participation of the unity government of armed opposition and former first vice president Riek Machar.
In response, President Kenyatta reportedly asked Gai and his group to send their finance minister, their Central Bank Governor and agriculture minister to Nairobi with a clear proposal, including the amounts needed and the modalities for repayment.
"Kenya can then determine its level of commitment “cognizant of the fact that the country also has economic interests in South Sudan and cannot be aloof to the suffering of its people," said the Kenyan leader.