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South Sudan integrates online portal to slash non-tariff barriers

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan said Tuesday it has already integrated an online portal aimed at eliminating various non-tariff barriers (NTBs).

The move aims in a bid to ease trade and expedite timely delivery of humanitarian aid as the country seeks recovery from more than five years of conflict.

Mou Mou Athian, Undersecretary for East African Community (EAC) under the ministry of trade, industry and EAC Affairs, said the online portal is the first trade-related online tool in South Sudan designed to provide information on institutions and mechanisms to fight NTBs.

"It is designed as the virtual center that provides information on national, regional and international themes related to the elimination of NTBs," Athian told journalists in Juba during training of officials on use of the portal.

He disclosed that they developed two tools that will help with the identification, registration and elimination of NTBs.

Athian revealed that the first tool is the national response system for NTBs that will enable quick resolution of specific NTBs particularly those related to non-compliance to the existing rules.

He disclosed that the second tool is specifically designed to assist humanitarian organizations in South Sudan and revenue authorities to streamline the process of tax exemptions and enable faster flow of humanitarian assistance to people in need in South Sudan.

"The NTB portal directly addresses South Sudan’s commitments arising from its membership to the EAC and will help South Sudan’s participation in regional forums that are established to address NTBs," said Athian.

He added that increased exchange of information on NTBs with EAC member states, among others, will reduce the cost of goods imported to South Sudan and facilitate exports.

"Start using the NTB Portal, learn, report and monitor NTBs and help us make it an effective mechanism for reducing the cost and time of trade in South Sudan," he said.

Charles Data Alemi, director Imani development that developed the online portal together with Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), said the digital tool will help traders in the country to identify and report on any form of NTBs.

"Today’s training is specifically to train members of the national committee who will be responsible for resolving some of these NTBs," he said.

Land-locked South Sudan joined the six member EAC trade bloc in 2016 that includes Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

The country is now pursuing membership in the World Trade Organization that will open up access to capital and market for locally produced goods.


South Sudan to probe officials and companies over oil deals

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan said on Thursday it has commenced investigations on officials and companies involved in oil deals to ascertain oil sales, payments and taxes.

Ateny Wek Ateny, president Salva Kiir’s spokesman, said the work of an ad-hoc committee will question officials that include former minister of petroleum Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth and some companies in a bid to balance books with auditors over pre-oil sales, payments and the taxes.

"The terms of reference are very clear there is a term for the investigation to ascertain the number of pre-sale agreements in the past and present deals and the details of companies allocated South Sudan crude oil on the basis of pre-sales," Ateny said.

"They are also to investigate the pre-sales process, off-take sales payments and taxes.

"They also have to engage the auditor general to audit the pre-sales in order to reconcile payments and liabilities against the government of South Sudan," Ateny told Xinhua in Juba.

The committee led by Elia Lomuro, the Cabinet Affairs minister, will also question officials in the finance ministry and Bank of South Sudan.

Michael Makuei Lueth, minister of information and broadcasting, said the government is also interested in reviewing the contracts entered between South Sudan and the companies responsible for selling crude on behalf of the government.

South Sudan depends 95 percent on oil production to finance its fiscal budget.

The crude is transported through Port Sudan.

The youngest nation which is just emerging from conflict since outbreak in December 2013 has not yet passed its 2018/19 fiscal budget after lawmakers last week protested over delays in payment of six months salaries for civil servants and soldiers.

Oil production has of late peaked to 175,000 barrels a day from less than 130,000 bpd due to prevailing peace after the government and opposition groups signed the revitalized peace deal in September 2018 in Ethiopia.


South Sudan secures U.S. $ 24.7 million dollars
to improve water supply and sanitation

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- The African Development Bank (AfDB) said Tuesday it has approved 24.7 million U.S. dollars to finance a project to improve the country’s water supply and sanitation.

AfDB said the strategic water supply and sanitation improvement project will support the rehabilitation of approximately 50km of the Juba town distribution network and related works, including metering and public water collections outlets.

Benedict Kanu, Bank country manager for South Sudan said the project will greatly assist South Sudanese by helping to improve the quality and delivery of urban water supply services in Juba city and strengthening rural water supply and sanitation services.

He added that it will help in combating diseases, reducing health costs, improving quality of life, as well as helping women save time and increase convenience due to closer water supply outlets.

"On completion, the project will directly benefit 300,000 people in Juba and the surrounding rural Jubek state," AfDB said in a statement.

Juba, like many urban centers in the country, suffers from the effects of years of armed conflict and under-investment in the development and maintenance of basic water infrastructure, according to AfDB.

It said increased numbers of displaced people and rapid urbanization have placed considerable strain on existing urban water supply infrastructure and the illegal supply of untreated water drawn from river Nile by private water tanker operators is common in the city and its suburbs.



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