IMF implores government to foster accountability

IMF implores government to foster accountability
President Salva Kiir (R) and delegation from the IMF Africa chapter (photo credit: Office of the President)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned the government of accountability in all spheres of government services.

Speaking at a press conference in Juba yesterday, the IMF Director of African Department Abebe Aemro Selassie urged the government to observe transparency and accountability in all government expenditure.

He said the IMF recognised the impacts of financial constraints on citizens of South Sudan which have been inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, economy and severe flooding. Selassie pledged continued support to the nation.

Abebe boasted that the support from IMF had helped in the unification of the foreign exchange market initiative.

“It was very heartening to hear from politicians, from leaders in this country that the government is committed to promoting transparency, tackling corruption, improving governance particularly in the oil sector where a lot of accountability and transparency is needed,” he said.

“Also to promote transparency on the spending side, to make sure that the resources government has can be explained in terms of how it has been used and salaries are paid.

“In the coming weeks and months, we hope to support the government in its endeavours to make sure that these very important areas of accountability and reforms are addressed and we will do our utmost to provide policy advice.”

He said the auditor general was working on auditing reports of IMF’s first disbursement and they were looking forward to receiving such reports soon.

“Topic of tackling corruption, improving governance is one of the higher priorities that we see in this country, given how much resources are needed to promote development here, to build schools and to build clinics, to build roads.

“It is paramount that every single public resource is used as wisely and effectively as possible and of course being directed to those development efforts,” he said.

Receipts kept

“In terms of accountability even for the emergency financing that we provided to South Sudan last year, we ask that spend the money but keep the receipts, so that it can be audited.”

He said the IMF looks forward to seeing accountability mechanisms adding that institutions in South Sudan should bring people to account for when the public funds have been misappropriated.

The Governor of the Bank of South Sudan Dier Tong Ngor promised that the government would be transparent in its spending after the promise by the new minister for finance to reform the department.

 “We need to sustain stability in the exchange rate. We need also to push forward with the progress that has been made in the area of public financial management. It is the commitment that the new minister has made that these reforms that were started will continue and he will work hard also to make sure that he builds on those reforms.

 “What we are doing now is really to lay the ground so that we have the conducive environment that will enable economic growth and economic development to begin to be seen by people of South Sudan,” he concluded.

He said food prices had not dropped due to global food prices which are high since the country depends on imported food. He said that when foods are imported, the high prices from neighbouring countries are also being imported into the country thus defining why the currency exchange rate has dropped as the commodity prices remain high.

Meeting with President

Meanwhile, the IMF Director of African Department Abebe Aemro Selassie met with the President on Monday and discussed economic outlook, reforms and developmental prospects for South Sudan.

Abebe expressed IMF’s willingness to support South Sudan in advancing economic reforms through accountability and liberating the exchange market.

The newly appointed Minister for Finance Agak Achuil Lual assured IMF delegates of transparency and accountability in handling and spending of public resources.

President Kiir on Saturday warned the new Finance Minister not to soil his reputation by following the steps of former finance ministers whom he said embezzled public funds to foreign accounts and built mansions and skyscrapers.

He further directed Agak to pay civil servants and organised forces on time and shun bribery as well as give reports of what is in the government chest to the president.

The President stressed that any corrupt government official should be reported to him.