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South Sudan needs more time to clear EAC debt: minister

June 30, 2019 (ARUSHA) - The East African Community (EAC) should give South Sudan more time to remit its arrears instead of suspending the young nation, a senior official said.

South Sudan’s minister for Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs, Paul (The Niles photo) Mayom Akec

In an interview with The East African on Thursday last week, South Sudan’s Minister for Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs, Paul Mayom Akec, said South Sudan is fully committed to paying what it owes the regional body.

“The government of South Sudan has always put plans in place to meet its EAC obligations but all these need time to deliver. We have problems with funding though the matter is now with the Ministry of Finance. Therefore, other EAC members and the Assembly should be patient with us,” said Mayom.

Each EAC member state is required to pay $8 million annually. South Sudan, which joined the bloc on September 5, 2016, has reportedly not remitted most of its dues, accruing a debt of at least $27 million.

“It would not be prudent to say that since you Juba has not paid; we will sanction or suspend you…What I know is that we are going to meet our commitments and continue to discharge our responsibilities as a member state that is devoted to pursuing the unity of the people of East Africa,” the minister told The East African.

Under Article 146 of the EAC treaty, a member state may be suspended from taking part in any EAC activities if it fails to observe and fulfill the fundamental principles and objectives of the treaty, including failure to meet financial commitments within 18 months.

About 90% of South Sudan government’s revenue comes from oil resources, while the rest is collected in the form of customs taxes, market taxes, road taxes, income tax and permits, among others.