Opinion | Economic challenges facing the newly reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly
President Salva Kiir Mayardit reconstituted the national parliament on 11th May 2021 as per the revitalized peace agreement signed in September 2018. South Sudanese facing significant economic challenges welcomed the newly reconstituted Transitional Legislative Assembly (TNLA). High unemployment, low production, lack of opportunities, low wages, and trade barriers are economic impediments. The newly appointed TNLA must aggressively address economic policy and introduce and pass legislation to guide South Sudan towards an economic revolution and prosperity.
South Sudan is considered the most oil-dependent nation globally, with oil revenues accounting for over ninety percent of government revenue. Oil revenue dependence has held South Sudan hostage to mercurial international oil prices. The establishment of the National Revenue Authority was a positive step towards revenue diversification and fiscal responsibility. The National Revenue Authority must be empowered to continue collecting non-oil revenue and reforming the South Sudan tax code.
The TNLA must work with the national, state, and county governments to ensure South Sudanese are not subject to double tax by streamlining revenue through the county, state, and national governments. The South Sudan tax code must promote small-scale businesses and poverty reduction by reducing low-income and small business taxes. The low taxes promote small business development and increase tax home pay for low wages earners.
Labor issues in South Sudan are contentious and demand seriousness and robust policy frameworks to ensure South Sudanese equal opportunity. South Sudanese are growing frustrated with the domination of foreigners in the labor market and the growing number of foreigners in senior management in NGOs and private businesses. South Sudanese are qualified, have the necessary education and expertise, and must be empowered.
The TNLA must develop stringent policies requiring companies to comply with transparent hiring policies and provide the necessary justification for hiring foreign candidates over South Sudanese for skilled positions. The TNLA should empower the Ministry of Labor to regulate private companies and NGOs and ensure South Sudanese are empowered with opportunities and provided with capacity-building opportunities.
South Sudan is a nation blessed with an abundance of resources and can become an economic powerhouse in Africa. South Sudan can produce gum, Arabic, sesame, honey, rice, sugar, maize, gold, diamond, iron ore, uranium, livestock, poultry fisheries, and the list goes on. South Sudan can satisfy local demand and export the surplus. South Sudan has the potential to be a net exporter and reduce excessive demand for imports. The South Sudanese pound (SSP) gains value through local production, thereby improving South Sudanese purchasing power.
The Transitional Government of National Unity can stimulate an economic revolution in South Sudan by creating the right policies and creating a conducive environment for South Sudanese to be productive and prosperous.
Akol Nyok Akol Dok is an entrepreneur, independent consultant, and political and economic analyst. He specializes in political economy, international relations, and development policy and has contributed to CNBC Africa, CGTN Africa, and AfricaNews. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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