SOUTH Sudan has achieved its highest ever receipt of $14.2 million in non-oil tax revenues for the first time in the nation’s history, through the efforts of a revamped state revenue authority.
The impressive result – recorded at the end of January 2019 – is evidence that the Non-Oil Revenue Mobilization and Accountability (NORMA) project in South Sudan, set up with a $14.8 million grant from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to improve domestic resource mobilisation in the non-oil sector, is achieving its objectives.
NORMA, in collaboration with the state National Revenue Authority (NRA), has driven accountability and transparency in the national revenue generating system. Since January 1st 2019, South Sudan’s Revenue Authority (SSRA) has consolidated all its non-oil revenue receipts into one single account – the NRA Block Account. The account has yielded approximately $14.2 million, for the month of January 2019 alone.
AfDB Country Manager for South Sudan, Benedict Kanu, lauded the results, which are being described by government officials, analysts and development practitioners as amazing. ‘This is a notable step in the right direction, underlining the Bank’s unflinching commitment to help South Sudan diversify its economy away from oil, a finite resource, to more productive and inclusive sectors such as agriculture,’ he noted.
These new figures will now be used by the government as a baseline for revenue forecasting. Further improvement in non-oil revenue mobilisation is expected in the medium to long term, as the government continues to tighten its accountability systems.
Kanu further added: ‘With the right conditions in South Sudan, the Bank is poised not only to ensure continued improvement in the performance of the existing country portfolio, but to grow the portfolio over the next three years, in line with the expressed national strategic priorities, as well as the Bank’s vision for continental economic transformation.’
NORMA is also focusing on strengthening financial control and accountability mechanisms, directly benefitting the Ministries of Finance and Planning, SSRA, and several other state regulatory and fiscal bodies.
With the Bank’s support, the SSRA will continue to work with concerned partners to strengthen capacity of the key revenue agencies such as customs, to review the legal framework for the collection of non-oil revenue and the creation of an integrated/computerized revenue collection system.
The AfDB remains committed to working with South Sudan and its partners to help diversify the country’s economy and build the foundation for long-term structural transformation in Africa’s youngest nation.
With $899,100 in support from the Bank’s Institutional Support Project to Public Finance Management and Aid Coordination (PFAID) a purpose built office building has been built for the SSRA.
Upcoming activities of the AfDB-financed NORMA project include review and drafting of a revised tax law, development of an IT system for revenue management, a taxpayer education program, study tours for knowledge generation on tax authorities within the region, and rollout of targeted training programmes for the staff of the SSRA.