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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

South Sudan proposes US 300 million dollar budget

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Stephen Dheiu Dau has unveiled a proposed 299.9 million U.S. dollar budget for the fiscal year 2017-18 that would soon be tabled before parliament.

The 2017-18 budget is 54 million dollars higher than the FY 2016-17.

According to Dau, the resources available to fund the budget are 191 million dollars at an estimated rate of 155 SSP per one dollar, leaving a deficit of 108 million dollars.

The key priority areas for the government will be spending on salaries and transfers which constituted 62 percent of the budget, rising funding for peace, avoiding borrowing the central bank, strict budget control among others.

“The budget was approved earlier by the cabinet but there was an issue of formation of the leadership of the budget committee in the parliament which has been resolved recently. We wanted it to be consistent with other countries of the East African Community,” he said.

War-torn South Sudan depends on oil export for 98 percent of its revenue, but production reduced significantly due to the civil war that erupted in December 2013, causing most oilfields in the country’s oil-rich northern region to shut down.

The East African nation is currently struggling with hyper inflation amid shortage of foreign reserves to support its import-dependent economy.

The finance minister said the net oil revenue available to fund the 2017-18 is estimated at 166 million dollars, which is just 20 percent of the country’s gross revenue.

Dau said the deficit would be covered by implementing the 2017-2018 Tax Amendment Bill which proposes new measures to boost non-oil revenue collection, tougher financial regulations and increased borrowing from Treasury Bills.

The new targets include increasing airport departure tax from 20 dollars to 30 dollars, raising sole proprietor income tax by 5 percent and establishing a revenue authority to reform tax collection and public financial management.

The government also seeks to raise 19.3 million dollars from new borrowings in Treasury Bills in the next fiscal year and ensure strict financial control regulations.

As one of the major economic reform policy, Dau said he will ask the parliament to partially scrap fuel subsidies to reduce the cost of supplying fuel by the state oil firm which is estimated to spend 183 million dollars on fuel subsidies annually.

“Ending the ongoing conflict and ensuring sustainable peace would provide conditions to attract foreign investment and development financing which are necessary to increase supply of foreign currency and the local currency and reduce inflation,” Dau said.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

South Sudan rebels say demilitarization of Juba crucial for peace deal revival

By Denis Elamu NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese rebels (SPLA-IO) on Friday called for full demilitarization of Juba to help revive the stalled peace deal.

The rebels said without full demilitarization of the South Sudanese capital, they will not take serious the recent peace deal revival efforts by the East African bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The deputy SPLA-IO spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel told Xinhua from his hideout that unless government soldiers moved 25 km out of Juba under the 2015 peace agreement, they would not be part of the new approach to end violence in the world’s youngest nation.

“We will start from where we ended in July 2016 before the fight. That means we have to be in Juba and continue with the implementation of the agreement. However this time round we would like to see that all the prerequisites of the deployment of SPLA-IO forces in Juba are first met by the government of Juba like demilitarization of Juba, and moving of government soldiers to 25 kms out of Juba,” he said.

Gabriel added the same would apply to their forces and that it is the only path to avoiding repeat of the clash in July 2016.

“This is to stop government from thinking of doing what they did in July last year in Juba,” he said.

The SPLA-IO has also been demanding the region to help release their leader and former first vice president Riek Machar from forced exile in South Africa.

He also said that the recent failed efforts by the national dialogue to meet Machar in South Africa were long overdue since they view the national dialogue initiative by President Salva Kiir as inconsequential to bringing an end to the more than three years of violence.

Meanwhile, the South Sudan army (SPLA) said recently that it will continue to fight the rebels in a bid to flash them out of their bases after the two sides traded accusations of recruitment in the refugee camps in northern Uganda near the South Sudan Kajo-Keji area where intermittent fighting continues.

“If they (rebels) are left not attended to, they become even security threat to neighboring countries,” said SPLA Acting spokesman Santo Chol.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Kiir and his former deputy Machar led to fighting that pitied mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital forcing Machar to flee into exile.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions others that have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

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South Sudan arrests youth leaders over latest ethnic hatred propaganda

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- South Sudan said on Friday at least two youth leaders have been arrested over the latest wave of ethnic hatred after they wrote letters ordering the UN and humanitarian agencies to expel all Equatorians working in the northern Jonglei state.

Deputy Minister of Information Paul Akol Kordit told Xinhua in Juba that they were very concerned and condemned the actions of the Bor Youth Community (BCY) which on July 4 authored an ethnically charged letter to the UN demanding expulsion of all its workers from the Equatoria region based on unconfirmed reports of the latter killing members of the Dinka tribe in Equatoria.

“We are very much concerned. We condemn these (Bor) youth, they are inciting ethnic division within the nation,” Akol said.

The Equatorian community youth also angrily responded to the letter on July 6 by calling upon their members to unite and expel all Dinkas from the region which prompted government to act quickly to contain the simmering tension.

“The government of Jonglei has already arrested those youth who authored the letters,” he added.

Since the outbreak of conflict in December 2013, and the renewed July clash last year have threatened to derail the harmony that existed long among various ethnic communities.

“This country was liberated by all South Sudanese together. There is no single ethnicity that fought and liberated South Sudan alone,” Akol added.

In November last year, the UN Special Advisor on Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng warned of the likeliness of ethnic hatred and killings increasing that could lead to genocide but experts ruled out genocide occurring since no leaders have organized such systemic killings along ethnicity.

Jacob Dut Chol, political Science don at Juba University said the youth of Jonglei deserve condemnation because other ethnic groups could eventually take it up and act in similar manner.

“There is need for government to sensitize South Sudanese to love themselves and accommodate people from other areas,” he said.

He added that the government should focus on improving livelihoods, social development and recovery programs and equal employment opportunities in a country facing economic hardship and bulging youth unemployment.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to fighting that pitied mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital forcing the rebel leader Machar to flee into exile.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions that have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

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UN calls for protection of South Sudan children after 6 years of suffer

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The UN children’s fund, UNICEF, on Saturday called for protection of children ahead of the sixth anniversary of South Sudan’s independence on Sunday.

In a statement issued in Juba, UNICEF said the hopes and dreams for the children of this fledgling nation have not materialized, describing the situation in South Sudan, as a “catastrophe for children”.

“More than 2,000 children have been killed or injured, and many more have witnessed horrific violence. The numbers are staggering and yet each represents the ongoing misery of a child,” said UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan, Mahimbo Mdoe said in a statement ahead of Independence Day on July 9.

The UN children’s agency said children continue to bear the brunt of conflict and collapsing essential services, noting that in nearly all aspects of their lives, children are being denied a childhood in South Sudan.

“Millions of children in South Sudan are suffering unthinkable hardships and setbacks in their education, nutrition, health and their rights,” said Mdoe, noting that some 2.2 million children in South Sudan are not in school.

The country has the highest proportion of out of school children in the world, with more than 70 percent of children not receiving an education. More than one third of all schools have been attacked by armed groups. 

An Integrated Food Security Phase Classification issued last month warned that six million people, more than half the population, are severely food insecure.

An estimated 1.1 million children are acutely malnourished with 290,000 suffering from severe acute malnutrition, which leaves them nine times more likely to die than a well-nourished child.

According to UNICEF, the near collapse of the health and water and sanitation systems in South Sudan has exposed children to deadly viruses including measles and waterborne diseases such as cholera.

The current cholera outbreak in South Sudan is the longest and most widespread in the country’s history.

More than 10,000 cases have been reported since the onset of the outbreak one year ago, with children making up 51 percent of all cholera cases.

“A country’s independence day should be celebrated. However, today in South Sudan, there will be no celebration for the millions of children caught up in this conflict,” said Mdoe.

“While UNICEF continues to increase our emergency response to reach those most in need, we reiterate what we have said time and again: humanitarian actors need full and safe access; and the children of South Sudan need peace,” he said.

South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 when a row between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy, Riek Machar, ended with fighting that often occurred along ethnic fault lines.

A peace deal was signed in 2015 but violations have been frequent, and heavy fighting broke out again in July 2016, forcing Machar to flee into exile.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of South Sudanese and displaced millions of others.

             

 

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