Activist demands transparency in Melut $3m oil shares

Activist demands transparency in Melut $3m oil shares
Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of CEPO (photo credit: Courtesy)

A civil society activist has called on the community leaders of Melut County to ensure transparency in the $3 million they have received as part of the three per cent shares of the oil revenue.

The Chairperson of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO) Edmund Yakani commended the government for releasing part of the money but pointed out that it should be used transparently to uplift the lives of the community.

“I would like to take this opportunity to appreciate that at least we have seen transparency in terms of oil revenue and regards to community shares of three per cent has already been implemented,” Yakani said.

 “I hope that this transparency can be extended in the community [members] of Upper Nile State who have suffered for long and to start gaining their three per cent share of the oil.”

The Chairperson of Melut Community and former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Stephen Dhieu Dau, told Eye Radio on Friday that the community has finally received $3 million – the shares meant for the oil-producing area.

Dhieu said the money was delivered in two instalments of $2 million and $1 million respectively beginning early this year.

“Yes, as of this year [Melut community] have received around $ 2 million which is not the whole amount. The [money] should be much more than this,” Dhieu said.

“Around $ 1 million has been given from 3 per cent. So, it is around $3 million of the 3 per cent of oil revenues shares.”

 He added: “The committee of the 3 per cent decided to designate some of this amount to implement projects, such as senior schools in three Payams, and part of this amount has also given to the contractor that is implementing the headquarters of the county.”

The Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2013 allocates 2 per cent and 3 per cent of the revenue shares for the oil community living in and developing oil-producing areas. But honouring this provision has been a problem since 2011 when the country got independence.

In April this year, the South Sudan Audit Chamber released an intriguing report detailing how the oil revenue shares belonging to oil-producing states and communities were misappropriated by influential individuals.

Affected states

The data obtained by The City Review indicates that Upper Nile State, Northern Upper Nile, Unity State, and Ruweng Administrative Area – the beneficiaries of the 2 per cent share got less than the total amount. They were able to withdraw just $19 million from the $25 million deposited by the Bank of South Sudan

This indicates that over $5 million ended up in the jaws of cartels. The fate was even worse for the beneficiaries of the 3 per cent share.

Renk Community, Ruweng Administrative, Melut Community, and Maban Community were supposed to get the $60 million deposited by the Bank of South Sudan from 2014 – 2020.  But the data revealed that did not work that way.

The communities and regions shared only $1 million among themselves with more than $59 million siphoned by beneficiaries not entitled to such funds by the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2013 as amended.

The data presented by the Auditor General did not include the period from 2011 to 2013 when the PRM Act was not enacted, an excuse by the Ministry of Finance and Planning – which makes sense to some extent.

Now, the audit committee is going after the illegal beneficiaries of such illicit transactions, including the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of South Sudan. The former is also being ordered to produce further details to help in the verification of the report.