By Deng Machol
Juba – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said tackling corruption and improving governance is a challenge affecting service delivery in South Sudan.
Last year, Transparency International ranked South Sudan as the third most corrupt country in the world, attributed it to the weak democratic foundation and the manipulation of undemocratic and populist politicians who use it to their advantage.
The monetary fund recently provided the country with $334 million credit facility to help its economic recovery after COVID-19.
In March this year, the IMF disbursed $174.2 million credit facility while in November 2020, it also gave the country $52.3 million to help address its economic challenges.
Of recently, the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said over the past two years, more than USD 73 million has been diverted since 2018 from public coffers and resources, including transactions worth almost $39 million in less than two months by the South Sudanese elites, which undermines human rights and endangering security.
The rights body noted that this figure is only a fraction of the overall amount looted; as President Salva Kiir himself admitted as far back as 2012, South Sudan’s ruling elites had diverted more than USD 4 billion.
President Kiir over the weekend revealed that some of his former government officials have been siphoning the country resources outside the country for personal gain.
Abebe Aemro Selassie, the Director of the African Department at the IMF said South Sudan has to streamline accountability in the oil sector in order to get on the path of economic recovery.
Abebe called on the Kiir administration to prioritize channeling resources towards development to alleviate the suffering of South Sudanese, to build schools, to build clinics and to build roads.
“The topic of tackling corruption and improving governance is the first order and priority challenges that we have been seeing in this country,” said Selassie, in a press conference on Tuesday after concluding a two-day visit to the country. “It is really paramount that every single public fund is used for development.”
The IMF boss further said accountability and transparency in the public money must be paramount.
“It’s very heartening to hear the government is committed to accountability especially in the oil sector,” said Selassie. “A lot of accountability and transparency is needed. Doing reforms is going to be necessary to facilitate the transforming of the country to Development.”
Dier Tong Ngor, Central Bank Governor assured that the government is committed to promote transparency and to tackle corruption in the government, including reforms in all fields of financial management.
“We will be more transparency with our resources, revenues and the expenses,” said Ngor. This reform that we started will continue and we will work hard to make sure that to avail to progress the economy of South Sudan to better for the benefits of the people.”
It has been difficult for the government to explain how the IMF money was being used.
But Governor says the IMF’s funding over the year has enabled important economic reforms including the unification of the local currency and foreign exchange rate.
Despite that the International Monetary Fund has assured the South Sudan of more support to strengthen economic and public financial reforms.
South Sudan is currently implementing a fragile peace deal aimed at ending six years of conflict which began in 2013, and usher it to the path of democracy and economic development. The violence left nearly 400,000 people dead, slashed oil production and created economic crises.