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S. Sudan earmarks nearly $30 million for development projects after independence

June 02, 2011 (JUBA) - An estimated SDG 79 million -around $29.5 million - will be allocated specifically to boost the development needs of South Sudan, when it becomes independent in five weeks time, David Deng Athorbei, the regional finance and economic planning minister told a recent workshop.

South Sudan, one of the poorest regions of the world, with next to no physical infrastructure, has been ravaged by civil war for most of Sudan’s independence.

“Going forward, resources are going to do what they are intended for and will be effective in delivering development to the population,” said Athorbei, as he officially opened a three-day states and counties workshop in Juba - the capital of the soon-to-be independent nation.

The minister, however, cautioned the attendees to properly utilize allocated resources for effective service delivery at grassroots levels. He further cited the importance of capacity building within the states and counties of the semi-autonomous state.

South Sudan’s second civil war with Khartoum caused massive destruction to the region, around two million lives were lost and four million displaced. In 2005, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed between the two warring parties in Naivasha, Kenya bringing an end to the bloody war.

Joe Feeney, UNDP’s head of South Sudan office at the same event underscored the importance of the training, especially at this critical time in the run-up to the country’s path to nationhood.

“It is crucial that the states and counties are involved in this process of promoting inclusive growth and economic development in Southern Sudan as it becomes a new nation,” Feeney remarked.

Among the key issues that featured prominently during the three-day planning and budgeting workshop were the draft South Sudan Development Plan 2011 – 2013 and revised aid strategy, efforts by the southern government to achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), public financial management, payroll, public sector reform and revenue management.

Also cited during the workshop as key challenges to the region’s progress were the rising inflation rates, revenue collection bottlenecks, plan based budget execution, lack of fiscal discipline in resource transfer to state and counties, lack of budgets for capital investment and weak databases and statistics, among others.

The annually-held event, now in its third year brought together 250 participants from all the 79 counties within South Sudan. It was organized and sponsored by UNDP.