$160 million disappears from South Sudan's coffers

South Sudanese Pounds. FILE | AFRICA REVIEW 

South Sudan mismanaged, misappropriated or embezzled funds to the tune of more than $160 million in the fiscal year 2008, country's Auditor General Chamber has revealed.

Released Monday, the audit report said that there were no adequate records provided on oil production, processing, storage and the sale of oil.

Respective ministries overspent and ended up exhausting funds that were not approved by the parliament or sanctioned by the Council of Ministers, according to the report.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, for instance, spent $7 million in excess without the authorisation of the parliament.

The Ministry of SPLA Affairs overspent by $104 million; Internal Affairs $10 million; $1.7 million for parliament, $10 million for the Office of the President and about $1.3 million for the Office of the Vice-President.

In 2008, the oil revenues received from Khartoum was about $2.2 billion, but $23 million of this money was not recognised in the financial statements, the report indicated.

It added that the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development and the Ministry of Commerce did not transfer, or account for $281,000 in registration fees and taxes collected.

The Ministry of SPLA Affairs, responsible for the army, could not provide documents for cheque payments of about $10 million, according to the report.

Ghost workers

The report also documented cases of ghost workers as well as an individual receiving salaries of up to four people for months.

Against a budget of nearly $1 billion for purchases, contracts awarded amounted to $2 billion. Some $12 million was paid to companies without proof of the delivery.

The Auditor General, Mr Stephen Wondu, said the financial statements of the Government of Southern Sudan for fiscal year 2008 “do not present a true and fair financial position and its income and expenditure”.

The lack of cooperation with the audit chamber, indicated by not making available required data on oil, and the fact that the Office of the President, Vice-President and parliament overspent without due authorisation, suggests that there was very little, if any, will to fight corruption.

The audits of 2005/2006 implicated the Office of the President, Vice-President and parliament in such overspending, and so far, no visible action had been taken to recover the funds.

Recently, President Salva Kiir wrote to government officials, asking them to return $4 billion of stolen funds to public coffers.

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