An Open Letter to South Sudan Minister of Finance and Planning

Posted: August 31, 2019 by aljokd in Junub Sudan, Malith Alier, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

Malith Alier, Australia

Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Salvatore Garang Mabiordit

Dear Hon. Minister,

Saturday, 31 August, 2019 (PW) —  I am sure we do not know one another. But this is not important as of now – other important matters can be handled in the meantime.

I saw you on your way to Stanbic Bank, Juba Branch around 2013 or 14. Someone who I knew alerted me that, that was Garang Mabiordit; the Undersecretary in the then  Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. You stoically exited the white Toyota V8 Land Cruiser a minute earlier. That’s the only time I saw you. On other occasions, particularly in 2015 and 16; I went to the Ministry but I failed to see you at your work station. This, I thought was unfortunate. Someone whose name rang loud should not be missed in action.

You have been at the helm of the Ministry of Finance and Planning for as old as South Sudan itself. You have been unmoved in the undersecretary position until last year when the president appointed you to head one of the most coveted portfolios in the country. No one should remind you that your job is a tough one because every state, every ministry and every business that deals with government looks you in the eye every hour.

Hon. Minister, I think the fact that you have been here at this institution for quite long is not based on your proximity to the power but other reasons may be at play. The other day we heard that you were at loggerheads with parliament for simple reasons of budget and planning. The lawmakers and citizens have a right to be angry at you or the executive branch of government for failure to do your best in these matters. The enormous work before you required that the officials in your ministry cannot sleep if they have not cleared the previous year budget and report its outcome. How can you audaciously present the 2019/2020 budget proposal without having adequately implemented the previous financial year one?

Last week, unfortunately, was a sad week for the whole country. It’s said that you released a ministerial decree to fire the Director General of the South Sudan National Revenue Authority for reasons you did not disclose to the public. It’s unfortunate that the Ministry of Finance and Planning always sees the directorate of taxation as its turf! This is not the case and you are the  one who should know the law and regulations better. Revenue Authority according to the Act is an independent body from the ministry and no incompetent person in your midst should try to do the dirty work like the one you did on it.

We were well aware that trouble was brewing when the DG, Mr. Attipoe went to media about tax exemption of RAK which emanated from the Office of the President. The minister in the office of the president was the one behind the unethical and corrupt application to grant the exemption to the well connected RAK. RAK is not a charitable and a not-for-profit organisation. it is a full pledged business entity ran on a multi million Dollar investment. Hence there were no convincing grounds for the attempt which has now succeeded because the obstacle has been eliminated – removal of NRA Director General. In the same vein, the DG earlier prevented a similar claim from ABMC, another corrupt conglomerate created by big people in government to fleece the poor.

The biggest threat to the country’s stability is not the armed rebels in the bush but the people in high places who placed their own  needs above the rest. By firing the DG of NRA, you have acted against the country’s needs. You have placed your needs and those of your seniors and friends above the ordinary needs of the dormant majority. This is called conflict of interest. There is an urgent need to separate your needs from the country ones. Who do you want to serve? Do you want to serve yourself, your friends, your superiors or the country. We ordinary folks by your actions began to suspect that by keeping you all these years at the ministry, the powers that might be have an interest for doing so. No wonder why some disgruntled clients called the national ministry a ” Kuac Business Centre.” I do not want to elaborate farther because that is how they perceived it.

You either expel this perception or confirm it through your clean actions. I am afraid your recent doing is the undoing of those who gave you the benefit of doubt.

Hon. Minister, you are presiding over a mess called M.F.P! I understand why you do not sit comfortably in your office during official hours. You have turned the ministry in to a dancing hall where people are always on their feet! It has become a catch-me-if-you-can-endeavour. There is hardly any order there. A document is missing here. An official is not in today and lots of other stories are churned out to the unsuspecting clients. This has been going on before your watch. You’re in deed a powerless witness!

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