Juba too broke to pay foreign medical bills

Friday September 16 2016

South Sudan Finance Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau. PHOTO | FILE

Broke South Sudan government has cancelled all payments for public officials seeking medical treatment from foreign countries in a bid to cut spending.

Finance minister Stephen Dhieu Dau issued the order Friday cancelling all bills and claims related to healthcare outside the country for civil servants.

The directive comes a week after the minister and his staff met with heads of government institutions to discuss key reforms including immediate implementation of cash limits for departments and agencies.

“This money is needed for improvement of health services in the Republic of South Sudan,” said Mr Dau in a memo to all undersecretaries and heads of commissions.

Last month, the minister cancelled payments of all outstanding cheques and claims – which were returned the concerned spending agencies – pending possible inclusion into the financial year 2016/17 budget, which is yet to be read.

South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, is struggling to stay afloat following resumption of war in December 2013, which has nearly halted oil production, the lifeline of the country’s economy.


According to sources, the country is currently not in a position to pay its debts amounting to millions of dollars borrowed from oil firms and neighbouring countries, yet it plans to borrow more to fund the 2016/17 budget.

READ: South Sudan seeks $300 million in external support for budget

Oil output has more than halved causing the revenues to drop by more than 80 per cent to about $10 million from the $500 million it generated at independence in 2011.

Currently, Juba is looking to its neighbours, Kenya and Uganda, for technical expertise to help revitalise its sinking economy.

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The memo further states that the ministry is working closely with relevant sectors and institutions to help tighten control over government spending, with a series of reforms that include limiting monthly cash expenditure and increasing transparency of payments.

Mr Dau hopes that the reforms will not only allow agencies to better plan their expenditures but also give them more power over the implementation of the budget.