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Experts urge speeding up financial reforms to restore economic growth in South Sudan

Experts from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday called on South Sudan’s transitional unity government to speed up economic reforms in order to put the country towards the path of economic growth and development.

Guy Jenkinson, the resident representative of the IMF said during the opening of the national economic conference in Juba, that the political leadership should embark on implementing reforms to ensure fiscal discipline and also improve on transparency and financial accountability.

“On our side, the advice that we have been giving always to authorities is that maintain fiscal discipline, constrain the amounts of your borrowing that is required by your budget and improve transparency on reporting so that you yourselves can track where the finances are going,” Jenkinson said.

The national economic conference that closes on September 8th was called by President Salva Kiir in order to seek solutions to the ailing economy that has been battered by years of war and mismanagement.

“We are working with the government to set up a single treasury account, we are working with the central bank to reform the financial sector, and we are working also in the areas of public financial management helping to improve budget reporting and transparency and debt management,” Jenkinson said.

He said the IMF has provided over 340 million U.S dollars in three disbursements since early 2020 to South Sudan.

Jenkinson noted that the harmonization of the local exchange rate would not have been possible without support from IMF.

Firas Raad, the World Bank country manager, said the government needs to utilize the one and half remaining period of the extended transitional period to put the country on a path towards achieving broad-based economic growth, job creation and reduction of poverty.

“Capitalizing on this opportunity now would be timely and crucially important in light of the instability raging across the Sahel, the ongoing conflict and upheaval in Sudan and the declining volumes of humanitarian assistance for South Sudan and severity of development outcomes in this country which remain among the poorest in the world,” Raad said.

He said 80 percent of the country’s estimated 12.4 million population is poor, 60 percent of children are out of school and less than 6 percent of the population has access to electricity.

Samuel Gbaydee Doe, the resident representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), said South Sudan needs to partner with the region and international community to undertake critical economic reforms.

“As we transition the country from humanitarian assistance to recovery and development, the UN and other international organizations are ready to accompany the country through technical assistance to harness the emerging regional and global opportunities for investment and trade,” Doe said.

 He said reforming the tax system is a critical step towards building a more prosperous and self-reliant country.

Bak Barnaba Chol, the minister of finance and economic planning, said the national economic conference provides opportunity to focus on areas of diversifying trade and the economic sector that remains heavily reliant on crude oil.

“We must develop agriculture to a commercial level and not only to ensure food security but also to generate income for our farmers and surplus for export. Priority in agriculture must also include small holder farmers’ productivity and access to markets as well as enhancing distribution system to minimize post-harvest losses,” he said.

Chol announced the establishment of the South Sudan Mineral and Development Corporation that will partner with interested companies to exploit the mining and mineral sector in the country.

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