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South Sudan govt surrenders additional powers to states

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By James Gatdet Dak

March 14, 2008 (JUBA) — The Government of Southern Sudan on Thursday conceded to devolve some more powers to state governments in the region.

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SPLA troops line up during a rally in Rumbek on January 10, 2005

Among several resolutions and recommendations adopted and read out during the closing ceremony of a four-day 5th Governors Forum in Juba, the ten Southern Sudan state governments should now administer their respective state police forces which include the Police, Wildlife, Prisons, Fire Brigade and Games as well as manage their budgets.

These forces, though deployed in the states, were previously administered from the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ general headquarters in Juba.

According to the resolutions, their budgets will also be directly transferred to the states annually from the GoSS Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

The GoSS will however be still responsible for establishing standards for training and supply of equipment for such forces.

The Forum also resolved that all GoSS ministries that have annual conditional grants meant for projects to be implemented in the states should also surrender such budgets to the states’ relevant ministries.

These GoSS Ministries include Health, Agriculture and Forestry, Education, Science and Technology as well as Cooperatives and Rural Development.

The Forum also resolved to give a number of powers in taxation system to the states; a reverse of GoSS’ previous decision to unify the system.

In their presentations at the Forum on Tuesday in the presence of the Government of Southern Sudan’s Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, state governors accused the GoSS of trying to centralize the governance system by controlling at the center powers that should have been devolved to the states.

The Government of Southern Sudan has been retaining such powers since 2005, arguing that the state governments in the region did not yet have the capacity required to manage such responsibilities.

The First Vice President of the Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan, General Salva Kiir Mayardit, in his closing speech at the end of the Forum told the Governors not to depend solely on the oil revenue but to organize tax system in the states and promote other income generating projects.

He told the Forum that he would work towards furthering the decentralization of the governance system in Southern Sudan, adding that the states should also further devolve more powers to the local government at the County level.

Kiir said his government would implement all the resolutions and recommendations of the Forum.

(ST)

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