News / Africa

Civil Servants Unpaid as S. Sudan Struggles to Repay Loans

South Sudan's Minister for Petroleum and Mining Stephen Dhieu Dau (L) prepares to press a button to resume oil production in May, 15 months after production was shutdown. South Sudan is struggling to repay loans it took out during the shutdown.South Sudan's Minister for Petroleum and Mining Stephen Dhieu Dau (L) prepares to press a button to resume oil production in May, 15 months after production was shutdown. South Sudan is struggling to repay loans it took out during the shutdown.
x
South Sudan's Minister for Petroleum and Mining Stephen Dhieu Dau (L) prepares to press a button to resume oil production in May, 15 months after production was shutdown. South Sudan is struggling to repay loans it took out during the shutdown.
South Sudan's Minister for Petroleum and Mining Stephen Dhieu Dau (L) prepares to press a button to resume oil production in May, 15 months after production was shutdown. South Sudan is struggling to repay loans it took out during the shutdown.
Charlton Doki
The South Sudanese government has stopped paying the salaries of many of its public sector workers as it struggles to pay back $5 billion dollars in loans it took out to tide the country over during the long oil production shutdown.

"Our borrowing has caught up with us and we cannot run away from it," Finance Minister Aggrey Tisa Sabuni said as he explained why some civil servants' wages have not been paid for two months.

"We must meet these challenges as part of the price of being forced to shut down our oil,” he said.

Juba-based civil servant Suzy Enocka said she hasn't been paid since September and her kids are beginning to badger her as the end-of-year holidays draw near.

“Now, even our children are stressing us, saying, 'Christmas is coming, when will you buy us things, clothes?'  Food is also expensive. Our situation is bad," she said, pleading with the govenrment to pay civil servants what they are owed.

Sabuni said that once the government has repaid its foreign loans, it hopes to pay civil servants' wages promptly. But, he added, that won't happen for "another two or three months."

Loan repayments, often on unfavorable terms to South Sudan, and $3.2 billion in compensation that Juba has to pay to Sudan to make up for revenues that Khartoum lost when the south became independent in 2011 "have squeezed our fiscal space and made it difficult for us to have sufficient funds at hand in order to pay funds promptly," Sabuni said.

"That’s why we are dragging on the issue of salary payments," he said. 

The South Sudanese government borrowed some $5 billion to offset a foreign currency shortage and fund government spending after oil production, which brings in the bulk of South Sudan's revenues, was shut down in early 2012 over a row with Khartoum on pipeline transit fees.

"We borrowed practically all available funds that any of the commercial banks could spare -- we borrowed it all to the tune of $4.5 billion,” and then borrowed another $650 million from foreign lenders, such as the National Bank of Qatar, and oil companies, Sabuni said.

Some of the loans were supposed to be repaid within 12 months, but the production shutdown lasted longer than that, and full production did not resume immediately once it ended.

The loans from foreign sources were to be repaid in oil taken from the volume of crude the South Sudanese government is entitled to under production-sharing agreements, and the domestic loans were to be repaid using non-oil and oil revenues.

But as unfavorable the repayment terms are, Sabuni said the government had no option but to take out the loans. 

“If borrowing on those terms was not done around that time, I cannot imagine how we could have survived," Sabuni said, adding that South Sudan was paying the price now.

"The chickens have come home to roost," he said.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Andrew Henry from: Worthington, MN USA
November 23, 2013 11:36 AM
This is incompetence at its high level.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs