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South Sudan seeks $5 million loan for undisclosed projects

February 28, 2015 (JUBA) – The South Sudanese government said it is seeking a loan of up to $5 million from international and local financial institutions to enable it to implement a number of undisclosed projects.

South Sudan minister Rebecca Joshua Okwaci (Photo: Moses Lomoyat)

Acting information minister Rebecca Joshua said the council of ministers approved a memo presented by finance minister David Deng Athorbei asking for approval to seek $5 million in loans during its regular meeting on Friday.

Joshua did not reveal why the loan was being sought and how it would be repaid and secured. The minister of finance has also not commented.

However, multiple sources at the ministry of finance have linked the loan to the large deficit in the budget, saying the 2014-2015 annual budget for the army had been exhausted.

According to reliable sources, China would be approached for the loan, expected to be covered by the advance sale of oil revenues. The terms of the loans have also not been disclosed.

Meanwhile, Joshua has admitted to the existence of officials in various government institutions who demand payments for their role in awarding contracts.

“The government is getting a report that there are people in different ministries and many public and private institutions who extort bribes,” she told reporters on Friday after attending the meeting of the council of ministers.

“If you have a government-approved contract or NGO project requiring funding by the government, you must pay to get approval of the concerned department,” she added.

Joshua said the government had been shocked and alarmed to learn of the high levels of bribery in different sectors, as well as allegations of delays in payment in exchange for kickbacks and nepotism.

“This means people who pay bribes get the money regardless of whether they have [a] genuine project, which is unacceptable,” she said.

“The council has resolved to start [an] investigation and deployed security operatives to all the institutions to track down these activities, and if people are found they will definitely be taken to the court of laws and made to account for their actions,” she added.

(ST)