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S. Sudan says will pay employees two months salaries after uncertainty

April 20,2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan has announced that it will pay its employees two months salaries, confirming uncertainties and speculations that the government had difficulties in getting funds to pay civil servants.

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South Sudan Deputy Finance Minister Mary Jerva Yak (africankulture)

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Mary Jarvis Yak, the deputy minister of Finance and Economic Planning admitted that government was not able to pay employees on time because of the “financial situation”, but that the ministry had secured some funds to pay workers for two months.

“We want to thank our people for exercising patience for inconveniences caused by the delay in payment. We know difficulties this situation had caused to the families but hope they understand that the delay was due to the financial situation in which we are today. We have now secured some funds and we will be able to pay two months salaries. We will pay March and April," Yak assured.

The payment process, the junior Finance minister stressed, started on Thursday this week, adding that they expect everybody to paid within the next two weeks.

Yak, during the interview, neither disclosed the source of funds nor the amount government had secured to make payment of the work force.

She was also cautious and preferred not to comment when asked whether the government will continue to face similar situations in coming months, and how it plans to handle such, should it fail to secure funds.

Last week, the European Union (EU) announced a $200m grant to South Sudan government, saying the money was to assist the ministry of finance cover financial gaps, created by the lost of the oil revenues, which accounted for 98% of the national budget prior to the halting of oil production and export in January last year.

PUBLIC REACTIONS

In separate interview with Sudan Tribune in the past few days, member of the public and officials, expressed mixed reactions over the salary payment issue, with some blaming government for alleged mismanagement of locally generated revenues meant to pay its work force.

Mayen Lual Jok, a retired civil servant said he saw no ground on which the government could not raise money to pay its work force from local taxes.

Jok cites the case of Uganda and Kenya, whose governments depend entirely on local taxes and agriculture, but not oil or any other natural resource to their budgets and public spending.

“There is no point for government to rely on foreign assistance when in fact it can generate funds from local taxes to pay the work force and even fund developmental activities," said the official, a former Director General in High Executive Council and Coordination Council of Southern States, formed after the 1972 peace agreement.

He said the Juba government, which was formed after the signing of the Addis Ababa agreement with the Sudan in 1972, fully operated and delivered services to its people without relying on oil revenues.

The official also accused the south-ruling party (SPLM) leadership of its failure to stamp out corruption practices in the country, which he said is partly responsible for the party becoming less popular.

“The popularity of the SPLM is dwindling because of corruption. The legacy of liberation cannot keep it in power if the leadership does not change its strategies," he said during Saturday’s interview.

Daniel Mawien, a native from South Sudan’s Warrap state said he sees the possibility if the SPLM losing in the 2015 elections, citing the series of financial scandals now known to the public, which the country’s leaders failed to control.

“Corruption in this country is no longer a crime. The more you are corrupt the more you become [a] popular member of the SPLM. The corrupt leaders are currently the ones holding powerful positions”, he alleged.

Meanwhile, Alfred Wol Dut, said the people of South Sudan were fighting hard to ensure that they bring to power the right people, no matter how long it will take.

“Our people are not stupid. They are warriors. That was why we had liberation war. We fought Sudan because we wanted to be economically free and so that [we] can develop ourselves with our resources, but if there are people who think they can steal [from] this country and that our people will continue to keep quiet, they must stop now," Dut said.

We have a history of fighting for justice, he added.

Dut however urged government to fully develop the agriculture sector so as to avoid South Sudan’s over reliance on neighbouring countries.

“You know that we are a consuming country. We do not produce anything. All goods in our shops are imported. This leaves our people at mercy of these unscrupulous traders. It is also being made worse by highly punitive tariffs on goods, imposed by different government agents," he said.

Sudan Tribune had repeatedly observed in recent weeks, policemen engaged in arresting motorists and taxi drivers for petty crimes, and soliciting bribes has become common place.

Everyday experiences of acquiring birth certificates and identity documents are also becoming a nightmare, as corrupt public servants demand to do what they are being paid to do by the government.

Immigration officers at the immigration offices in Juba demand payment for provisions of form to acquire nationality and passport, which are not part of the legal charges. In addition, no proper explanations are usually given by officials, while receipts are issued upon request by the citizens.

(ST)