Peace Obi

South Sudan, an African country whose economy is heavily dependent on oil revenue has made a remarkable achievement in its effort to diversify her economy as the country earned about US$ 14.2 million in non-oil revenue for first time, with the support of the African Development Bank’s Non-Oil Revenue Mobilization and Accountability (NORMA) project  in the country.

The African Development Bank in a statement made available to the press on Tuesday announced the achievement. Described as the highest ever receipt from non-oil tax revenues in the nation’s history, the 14.2 million non-oil revenue was made possible through the efforts of a revamped state revenue authority. The impressive result, recorded at the end of January 2019 is evidence that the Non-Oil Revenue Mobilization and Accountability (NORMA) project in South Sudan, set up with a US$14.8 million grant from the African Development Bank to improve domestic resource mobilization in the non-oil sector, is achieving its objectives.

NORMA, in collaboration with the state National Revenue Authority (NRA), had driven accountability and transparency in the national revenue generating system. South Sudan’s Revenue Authority (SSRA) was said to have consolidated all its non-oil revenue receipts since January 1st 2019 into one single account – the NRA Block Account. The account has yielded approximately US$ 14.2 million, for the month of January 2019 alone.

The statement also noted that the NORMA is also focusing on strengthening financial control and accountability mechanisms, directly benefitting the Ministries of Finance and Planning, SSRA, and several other states regulatory and fiscal bodies.

Adding that with the Bank’s support, the SSRA will continue to work with concerned partners to strengthen the capacity of the key revenue agencies such as customs, to review the legal framework for the collection of non-oil revenue and the creation of an integrated/computerized revenue collection system.

According to the Bank, “AfDB remains committed to working with South Sudan and its partners to help diversify the country’s economy and build the foundation for long-term structural transformation in Africa’s youngest nation.”

In his remarks, the African Development Bank Country Manager for South Sudan, Benedict Kanu, commended the results, which are being described by government officials, analysts and development practitioners as amazing. “This is a notable step in the right direction, underlining the Bank’s unflinching commitment to help South Sudan diversify its economy away from oil, a finite resource, to more productive and inclusive sectors such as agriculture,” he noted.

According to Kanu, these new figures could be used by the government as a baseline for revenue forecasting. Adding that further improvement in non-oil revenue mobilization is expected in the medium to long term, as the government continues to tighten its accountability systems.

He said, “With the right conditions in South Sudan, the Bank is poised not only to ensure continued improvement in the performance of the existing country portfolio but to grow the portfolio over the next three years, in line with the expressed national strategic priorities, as well as the Bank’s vision for continental economic transformation,” Kano added.

With US$899,100 in support from the Bank’s Institutional Support Project to Public Finance Management and Aid Coordination (PFAID) a purpose-built office building has been built for the SSRA.

Upcoming activities of the African Development Bank-financed NORMA project include review and drafting of revised tax law, development of an IT system for revenue management, a taxpayer education program, study tours for knowledge generation on tax authorities within the region, and rollout of targeted training programs for the staff of the SSRA.

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