Ministry of Finance: where heads roll in a blink

Ministry of Finance: where heads roll in a blink

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has been riddled with controversies and challenges in equal measure. It could arguably sit at the summit of the country’s most important docket. But its salience has also attracted a higher turnover rate of ministers.

The current finance minister, Agak Achuil Lual, is the ninth official to serve in the institution since independence on July 9, 2011. This means that nearly every year the country picks up a new minister for the docket.

The turnover has increased in the past few years after the signing of the peace agreement with three three finance ministers being replaced.

However, some of the reasons given in a few cases are the delayed payment of salaries of civil servants as well as the disbursement of public funds to foreign bank accounts, according to the statement of President Salva Kiir on Saturday, at the swearing-in ceremony of the new finance and interior ministers.

The fate of finance ministers

In July 2011, President Kiir issued a decree removing Aggrey Tisa Sabuni from the ministry, after serving there since 2009. Although Sabuni had been criticised, some people believed that he had been the best.

Among the issues, he was criticised for was the delayed payment of salaries to civil servants. Kiir fired Sabuni and appointed him as his advisor on economic affairs.

He was replaced by David Deng Athorbei, who was once a finance minister before being relieved in August 2011.

In 2013, Kosti Manibe Ngai and Cabinet Affairs Minister Deng Alor Kuol were relieved over an alleged disbursement of $ 7,959,400 to a certain foreign private company.

The President formed a committee that was chaired by Justice John Gatwich Lul, who served on the anti-corruption commission.

The committee was set to investigate the legality of the contract and the location of funds and that the two would be taken to court.

Kosti Manibe was replaced by Marial Awou in 2013.

Later that same year, Aggrey Tisa Sabuni was reinstated and he served till January 2015, when he was removed and David Deng Athorbei was reinstated.

David Deng Athorbei was removed in a cabinet reshuffle in July 2016.

 A separate presidential decree ushered in Stephen Dhieu Dau, who was the Minister for Trade and Industry, as the new Minister for Finance. Dau had also been the Minister for Petroleum before the transitional government of national unity.

Stephen Dhieu Dau was replaced by Salvatore Garang in March 2018. He served till September 2020, after which he was replaced by Athian Ding Athian.

Athian was fired as Minister of Finance and Planning last week and was replaced by Agak Acuil Lual, who was sworn in on Saturday alongside the newly appointed Minister of Interior, Mahmoud Solomon Agok.