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S. Sudan oil minister urged to retract "booming" economy remark

February 25, 2018 (JUBA) – A forum of South Sudanese civil society entities said they are frustrated by comments attributed to the country’s Petroleum minister, Ezekiel Lol Gatkouth in which he reportedly described the economy of Africa’s newest nation as “booming”.

South Sudan’s petroleum minister Ezekiel Gatkouth makes opening remarks at the Oil and Power conference in Juba, October 16, 2017 (APO)

Gatkouth made the remarks while appearing on the BBC’s Hard Talk program.

The group, in a statement, said the minister’s remarks were a total misrepresentation of facts on the ground and needed a retraction.

“It is also a direct mockery of citizens who are facing deplorable living conditions as a result of the war inflicted economic collapse in the country,” partly reads the statement.

Latest figures from the World Bank show that inflation in South Sudan has consistently been in triple digits over the last two years, with its Gross Domestic Product experiencing an annual growth rate of -13.1 percent.

Civil servants have gone for months minus pay as the country’s population continue to survive on emergency humanitarian assistance.

“These troubling economic indicators are among the worst in the world and cannot make a booming economy”, the group further said.

Members of the forum urged politicians and leaders in the country to seek the right information before they make public statements.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than two million displaced since war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013.