The government has ‘retracted’ an earlier statement that South Sudan’s crude oil had been sold for the next five years.
The Minister of Finance and Planning Agak Achuil Lual on Wednesday reassured the nation that crude oil “is still under the ground”, contrary to earlier assertion that the precious commodity had been sold until 2027, to raise funds to pay government employees.
Achuil made the clarification before President Salva Kiir, Wednesday, May 11, after he was summoned, alongside Governor of the Bank of South Sudan Moses Makur Deng, to update the head of state on the status of economic reforms and the utilisation of the oil proceeds.
Last week, the minister said the government does not have money to pay the salaries because the oil had been sold in advance.
Lual took office last November.
“It is not that the government is seating on the money and not paying arrears.
“Where am I going to get money if the oil has been sold in advance, up to 2027?
“That means I will go to 2028 to request money from someone so that in 2028, the person (who advance us the money) will be given that oil,” Achuil stressed.
But minister retracted the statement after meeting President Kiir, adding that he was quoted out of context.
“He (Achuil) explained that what he meant was the crude (oil) spreadsheet and commitments on the developmental projects until 2027, and it doesn’t mean that South Sudan oil has been sold out.
Achuil Lual clarified his recent statement, that South Sudan oil has been pre-sold till 2027, and that it was taken out of context,” read a statement posted on the official Facebook page of the office of the President.
They also briefed the President on their recent visit to Washington DC where they held meetings with IMF and World Bank.
For now, we understands that the minister informed the head of state that IMF is waiting for the audit report before they could advance additional loans to South Sudan.
Last week, Achuil admitted that he inherited huge arrears, making it difficult for his ministry to effectively discharge its function of paying civil servants.
“The reason why we are not paying the arrears is that part of the oil money is going towards repayment of loans and priorities of the government,” he said.
Civil servants are owed three months of arrears from January, February, and March.