South Sudan asks donors to pay for a third of national budget

Friday July 7 2017

Dau presented a 46.5 billion South Sudan Pound

Dau presented a 46.5 billion South Sudan Pound (SSP) ($300 million) budget FY 2017/18 to ambassadors on Thursday, ahead of a presentation to parliament this month. TEA GRAPHIC  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By REUTERS
More by this Author

War-ravaged South Sudan needs donors to fund more than a third of its next budget, finance Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said, but countries are unwilling due to corruption and conflict.

Dau presented a 46.5 billion South Sudan Pound (SSP) ($300 million) budget FY 2017/18 to ambassadors on Thursday, ahead of a presentation to parliament this month.

"The budget is expected to exceed available resources by SSP 16.8 billion ($134.9 million)... to be provided by donor countries," Dhieu said. The financial year ends on July 31.

South Sudan has been torn apart violently by civil war with more than a quarter of its 12 million fleeing their homes. Civil servants and soldiers go unpaid for months and hyperinflation rendering the money almost worthless.

According to a report by U.S. advocacy group The Sentry, South Sudan's leaders and their families have amassed great wealth during the conflict. The government however denies the findings.

The United Nations has said ethnic cleansing in the conflict could lead to genocide, with international rights groups documenting torture, rape and murder of civilians by government-allied forces.

According to an audio clip presentation, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan  Mary Catherine Phee said, "We will do our best to support you, but we are constrained by the ongoing conflict"

Mr Dau said the government wanted to avoid borrowing from the Central Bank to stop the drop of the pound, which has plunged in value to around 155 to the dollar.

South Sudan's oil production has been crippled as the young country must pay hefty fees to neighbouring Sudan to use its infrastructure for export.

Dau said oil revenues are projected to increase to SSP 127.2 billion($19 billion) in 2017-2018. But only SSP 25.5 billion ($3.8 billion) will remain after South Sudan pays Sudan and disburses subsidies to the national oil company, Nilepet.

Donors already pay for almost all health and education expenditure in South Sudan. Japanese Ambassador Kiya Masahiko said they wanted to see more accountability and good financial management.