Concerns over South Sudan’s fiscal decisions took center stage at the five-day National Economic Conference in Juba. US Ambassador Michael J. Adler openly questioned the transitional government’s budgetary priorities, which seem to place higher emphasis on the National Basketball Team than on pressing humanitarian issues.
“While the National Basketball Team’s achievements spark national pride, it’s disconcerting to see their funding surpass that of the humanitarian sector,” stated Adler.
Diving deeper into the nation’s financial decisions, Adler questioned the broader spending strategy of the transitional government.
“A significant chunk of South Sudan’s revenue, especially from oil, is directed towards road development. However, the tangible benefits for the South Sudanese populace from such expenditures remain unclear,” he commented, urging a re-evaluation of such allocations.
Ambassador Adler further underscored the underwhelming governmental support for the health sector, which leans heavily on international aid. A mere 2% of its budget comes from the transitional government. The stark contrast became even more evident with the allocation of just three million dollars for humanitarian assistance, even as many South Sudanese return from Sudan.
Highlighting other systemic issues, the ambassador lamented the lack of a conducive environment for South Sudan’s private sector. He attributed this to a combination of the mismanagement of public resources and a lack of commitment to fully implement the peace agreement.
Ambassador Adler’s remarks serve as a wake-up call, urging the transitional government to re-prioritize its allocations to address the country’s immediate humanitarian needs.