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JUBA - 10 Jul 2019

Finance minister promises to fulfil $100 mln pledge to fund peace

Photo: Finance Minister Salvatore Garang
Photo: Finance Minister Salvatore Garang

South Sudan’s minister of finance and planning on Tuesday promised to release money to help fund the peace agreement.

In May, South Sudan government pledged during a meeting in Ethiopia to provide $100 million to expedite the implementation of the critical pending tasks in the peace deal, which is behind schedule.

Minister Salvatore Garang Mabiordit told reporters in Juba that his ministry will take the first step in fulfilling the pledge made by the government.

“We are going to make the payment. We are going to pay them part of the $100 million,” he said.

The implementation of key provisions in the peace deal such as creating a unified army is carried out by National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC), a body tasked with the oversight and coordination of the activities of the pre-transitional period.

The finance minister noted that the pledge had been budgeted by his ministry.” It is budgeted, so it is not being directed. It is already in the budget and when the money comes, we will pay them,” he said.

Separately, Garang revealed that his minister had already paid two months’ salaries of government employees, saying another month would be paid today.

“The first two months had already been paid, so we are now going to two months, one month is going to be started, then the second month,” he explained.

He further said payment in arrears can’t be paid in a lump sum because it may confuse some government institutions. “So now we are in the third month for salaries payment, and the fourth will come,” said Garang.

The minister says non-payment of civil servants and soldiers for several months is definitely not his fault.

“When I came, I found that there was an accumulation of arrears, and when you are the minister you don’t say that the former minister is the one responsible. I have to clear these months as a minister,” he said.  

Last month, chaos erupted in the parliament as MPs blocked Finance Minister Salvatore Garang from presenting the new budget, citing frustrations over non-payment of salaries for the last six months.

The world’s youngest country, which has one of the largest reserves of crude in sub-Saharan Africa, is struggling to increase oil production months after the signing of the peace deal in September 2018.

Last month, the government said it would borrow $500 million from the African Export-Import Bank to bridge the widening gap in its budget.