By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, 1st December 2021
By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi
On Economics in South Sudan, one of the recommendations from the recently concluded governors’ forum has “urged” the Ministry of Finance and Planning, and the Bank of South Sudan to “accelerate reforms in the Public Financial Management (PFM).”
In relation to that and the economic reforms provided for in the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan R-ARCSS, it is important to note the following:
1- RJMEC’s latest report on the Status of the implementation of the R-ARCSS noted creation of a Public Financial Management (PFM) Oversight Committee “focused on implementing the priorities they had identified.” The report says, “Regarding public expenditure, the government developed a payroll cleansing report of headcount that is currently being implemented and has screened employees resulting in a much shrunken payroll. The Oversight Committee is also reviewing the status of South Sudan’s Public debt as required in article 4.14.3 of the R-ARCSS.”
2- While Article 4.1.4. of the R-ARCSS is more broad on establishing a high-level, competent and effective oversight mechanism that shall control revenues collection, budgeting, revenue allocation and expenditure, among others, Article 126.96.36.199. is specific that the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity shall, within three (3) months of the commencement of the Transitional Period, Review the implementation of Public Financial Management and Accountability Act, 2011.
3- The R-ARCSS also says the RTGoNU shall, through legislation, establish an Economic and Financial Management Authority (EFMA), within four (4) months of the Transition, comprised of individuals selected on the basis of a set of criteria by the Board of EFMA as per the Legislation that establishes the Authority. The mandate of the Authority, the Agreement says, shall be to provide an effective oversight of economic and public financial management, and to ensure transparency and accountability particularly in the oil/petroleum sector, concessions and contract award, budgetary and public expenditure, revenue collection and other related matters. (See Article 4.16.1)
Other R-ARCSS Provisions on Economic and Financial Management Authority
The R-ARCSS says:
-The Economic and Financial Management Authority (EFMA) shall be governed by a board to be known as Board of Economic and Financial Management Authority (BEFMA) comprising the President and the First Vice President of the RTGoNU as Chair and Deputy Chair respectively, the four Vice Presidents and Ministers of Finance and Planning, Petroleum, Mining, Roads and Bridges, Governor of the Bank of South Sudan (BoSS), National Revenue Authority, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee dealing with Public Accounts; representatives of Political Parties, South Sudan Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (SSCCIA), Civil Society, women representatives, youth and academia.
-The BEFMA shall appoint the Head of the Authority that shall be endorsed by the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA). In the exercise of its statutory and oversight functions, the Authority shall be independent, and all public and private institutions shall fully cooperate with the Authority.
-The EFMA shall be supported by an Advisory Committee comprised of: the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), PTA Bank, UN-Economic Commission for Africa, United Nations Development Programme, and three (3) major donor representatives. The Advisory Committee shall select its own Chair, Deputy and sub-committee leaders.
-The main tasks of the Advisory Committee, among others, shall include: advise the oversight Authority, build the capacity of EFMA, and assess and review the Authority’s effectiveness in its oversight functions, identify gaps and recommend solutions. The Advisory Committee shall submit its regular report to the BEFMA, EFMA and RJMEC. The Chairperson of the Advisory Committee and sub-committee leaders in the Committees shall participate in the BEFMA and the EFMA meetings as experts.
– The Authority in collaboration and support of the Advisory Committee shall develop an efficient and effective oversight mechanism through institutional follow-up, support and review of implementation of public economic and financial programmes by line Ministries and other departments;
-No later than six (6) months of the Transition, the BEFMA, EFMA, and its Secretariat, and the Advisory Committee shall be fully functional. (See Article 4.16 of the R-ARCSS)
While delays in implementing the R-ARCSS continue to be there, with various reasons being cited, dialogue, engagements and knowing what should and can be done at various levels as far as reform and the implementation of the agreement is concerned is important and a part of the peace process.