Gov’t pledges to settle regional financial arrears

Gov’t pledges to settle regional financial arrears
James Morgan, South Sudan Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union

The government of the Republic of South Sudan says it has taken a bold step to address its membership financial obligations in the African Union (AU) and cleared outstanding arrears worth $9million.

This comes after the Union sanctioned South Sudanese diplomats and barred them from participating in their meetings and official events for the second time in two successive years.

A senior government official told The City Review last week that the administration of President Salva Kiir was working to address debt-related challenges, not just with the AU for also with other regional organizations where it is a member.

Edward Hakim, the Deputy Spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the government was seized with debt-related challenges facing the country at different regional and international bodies.

An official statement from the ministry also reveals that the decision to sanction South Sudan followed a report of the Joint Sitting of the Ministerial Committee on Scale of Assessment and Contributions and the Committee of Fifteen AU Ministers of Finance.

While the suspension did not strip South Sudan of its membership status, it deprived the country of contribution and participation in major events of the AU. It also disenfranchised South Sudan from the enjoyment of other membership benefits.

“The Ministry of Foreign and International Cooperation of the Republic of South Sudan would like to assure that it is coordinating with the Ministry of Finance and Planning to resolve the matter, not only with the AU but also with other regional and international organizations to which South Sudan is a member,” said the statement.

James Pitia Morgan, South Sudan Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union, confirmed to local media last week that the government has settled the “embarrassing” arrears.

Though the National Ministry of Finance worked to resolve the matter by paying the country’s annual contributions, Pitia lamented delay over the remittance process.

“South Sudan has delayed in remitting its share of contributions to the AU for two years,” Pitia said.

South Sudan is on record of reluctancy to meet its membership financial obligations, especially within regional and international bodies.

The country is yet to clear outstanding arrears to the East African Community to which it owes about $24 million.

Reports also say South Sudan owes regional aviation groups millions of dollars in unpaid membership fees.