How It Is Out Of Touch With Giving The Required Services to Southerners

By Mayom Bul Atem
Ottawa, Canada
May 27, 2006

 

With 800 million dollars coming from Southerners' own resources, the central government of South Sudan appears to have taken the lion's share while at the same time it is out of touch with giving the required services to the people.

The problem with having many governments with the duty to offer services to the citizens is that some of them would just watch and assume that the rest would do the work. At the moment, we seem to have three distinct governments: GoNU, GoSS and state governments. Since South Sudan is still part and parcel of Sudan as a whole, the GONU is expected to do something for the people of Junub. But the only resources southerners are getting are from their 50% share of the oil revenues.

As it was anticipated, southerners do not expect anything from Beshir's government and in turn, Khartoum government thinks that it has nothing to do with southerners - secession in the making. Their rationale is that GoSS is there to oversee the pertinent issues involving economic development in South Sudan.

Likewise, the formation of GoSS was thought as an important step toward ensuring that all southerners have a piece of the peace dividend. Yet southerners are now looking toward Juba asking when their lives will start improving since there has been a recognizable influx of oil revenues and donor's aid into their capital city. It appears, sadly, that the central government of South Sudan (GoSS) has delegated the deliverance of services to state governments. The central government headquartered in Juba is seemingly almost out of touch with the citizens with whom the services that require finances should be delivered to. We now have state governments, county and payam administrations doing the best they could to give hope to the people they are serving. But a stark difference between the two entities of governments is that state governments do not have their own independent budgets.

What goes to Juba which is mainly from oil revenues is what eventually reaches the state governments in a small fraction. More than 80% goes to the federal ministries while less than 20% goes to the states, counties and Payams combined. What does GoSS ministries do with the 80%? Only God knows--for I do not want to speculate about the alleged corruption. More so, most of the under 20% funds the states receive from GoSS is spent on the salaries and incentives of the state, counties and payam employees. So we basically have nothing reaching the common people. The lucky lot could be those whose areas are reached or targeted by some NGOs that are pro-development.

On May 12 2006, Juba Post published an article which was in turn published on Sudan Tribune. The article portrayed a chilling irony when it comes to the way GoSS is expectedly dispatching funds that are used in delivering services to the people. The most important part of that article which I took with a lot of sand to grind was as follows:

"...the percentage of the budget allocated to Government of Southern Sudan ministries is considerably larger than the percentage allocated to the states. The Ministry of Agriculture has 330 staff, while the combined agricultural ministries of the states and counties have 3650. Yet out of the 8,855,155 dollars allocated to the agricultural sector, only 975,000 will go to the states and counties..."

Doing a little arithmetic, we make a number of conclusions. First, we discovered that the states and counties got just 11% of what was allocated to the ministry of Agriculture. The remaining 89 percent remained with GoSS' ministry of Agriculture and what it is doing with it is yet to be seen. Second, the central government employees are just 8% of all employees in the sector while 92% of them are from states. We can assume that the same thing happened to other ministries as well. Yet the task involved in the states is more demanding than the task at the national level. And since federal ministries are not directly answerable to the people, the states are significantly exhausted with convincing the citizens that life would be better soon. State governments do this with empty hands!

But how long would these citizens wait when they know that their government received $800 million last year? How long will state governments enjoy the popularity they have right now before southerners consider them as useless? How long will SPLM and GoSS enjoy the popularity at the grassroots while their grassroots supporters are getting no tangible rewards?

With ministers and other government officials buying fancy cars, running lucrative businesses, the peasants will start thinking that SPLM was fighting to enrich a few, contrary to the aims and objectives of the movement which cost more than 2 million lives. It would not be long enough before the people give up and desperation crops in, which often times is followed by lawlessness unless GoSS does something to prevent the occurrence of such precarious moments.

One of the actions GoSS should take is downsizing. I personally think GoSS has employed more people than it can pay. If one sector such as agriculture can employ a total of 3980 employees while the total revenues it received for both salaries and running government projects is $9 million a year, would we expect any single government program accomplished? Not at all. This money is not even sufficient for employees salaries!

At this level of economic development and given the current state of government revenues, I would wholeheartedly campaign for the downsizing of employees. A total of 400 employees in each sector (GoSS, state and county employees combined) would still do the work without necessarily running out of human resources. And since more work is done at the state and county levels, more than 80% of employees should be stationed on the ground. Taking the example of agriculture sector, cutting the number of employees to one-tenth would save us $8 million which we can use to deliver services to our citizens. And almost everyone will be happy with the trade-off.

The second action GoSS needs to take is to get rid of the redundancy between state and federal ministries. Since states do not have their independent sources of revenues, it would be imperative that GoSS takes necessary steps to bridge the gap between federal and state ministries. Since state ministries are copycats of federal ministries, it would be better we place state ministries under the supervision of federal ministries, at least on a short term basis.

For instance, the minister for Agriculture must have ten deputy ministers each coming from each of the ten states. These ten deputies by default must be ministers for Agriculture in their respective states. With the head office in Juba occupied by the minister and a few other staff members, each ministry must have a sub-office in each state, headed by assistant minister for Agriculture (who is at the same time the minister for agriculture in that state). The undersecretaries (assistant ministers) and other redundant government officials can be weeded - a fine way of downsizing the number of government employees. This way, citizens will have direct access to federal coffers and the state ministries would not be very strained financially for their sources of revenues would come directly from the federal ministries.

Besides, the federal ministries can adequately supervise activities of state ministries while at the same time the government secures the confidence of citizens being served. Ministries such as defense, internal security among others must remain exclusively under the command of federal government. But I feel that each state must be given the task of choosing its own police task force depending on its budgetary capacity. The central government can employ a few police units for its own affairs if it wants to.

In addition, GoSS needs to fund government programs and ministries based on the need and the urgency each government program has. There are programs that are needed immediately and there are those that can be forgone for some time until south Sudan is self-sufficient. For instance, sectors such as agriculture, education, health just to mention a few need more funding now than, say, environment & wildlife or telecommunications & postal services. Similarly, it would be unfair to give states equal share of revenues. There are states/regions that do not have a single secondary schools. There are states that do not have a clinic, leave alone a hospital. The NGOs and churches either did not care to build these facilities in those states or they feared being targeted by NIF during the war. Whatever the case was, these states need more funding than those developed by churches and/or NGOs during the war.

Since most of our revenues come from oil, the oil producing states/regions need to be given a small proportion of oil monies on top of what is allocated to them by GoSS. The 2% that SPLM and NCP agreed to award oil-producing communities is only for the surrounding communities. But the larger society which goes by the name of state/region does not benefit from the deal.

Oil is a non-renewable commodity therefore, extracting it needs proper planning accompanied by adequate compensation. The pollution that comes along with the extraction of oil mineral together with other externalities ought to be put into consideration. Thus, oil producing states need more from the oil wealth than others. The same rule should apply to what each state produces best. By default, the oil producing states are less developed than their counterparts. Due to the degree of underdevelopment and the fact that the single most source of revenues comes from Upper Nile, GoSS needs to be considerate enough to allot a certain fraction of oil revenues to Upper Nile region.

Finally, South Sudanese are persevering people. The quest by our government (GoSS) to exploit more oil from our oil reserves together with its tendency to look for more natural resources to supplement its revenues is uncalled for. What Jallaba has got is enough. We do not need to sound desperate to an extent that when South Sudan becomes an independent country, we will have run out of oil and other natural resources.

If possible, GoSS should postpone the request by multinational companies that are interested in looking for oil reserves and other important minerals in South Sudan until further notice. If possible, GoSS should tell the NCP that what is already being extracted is enough. What is left can only be mined after the referendum, when southerners have decided their fate! Otherwise, it is better to get 100% of our own revenues than sharing it half-half with a defunct government in Khartoum which has no mercy except running our oil reserves and other natural resources dry before the referendum.



 

 

 

 

 

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