Joint Press Release on Behalf of the South Sudan National Revenue Authority, African Development Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme in South Sudan
18 May 2021, Juba—Convened by the National Revenue Authority, state and national government officials are meeting from 18-19 May 2021 to comprehensively review their roles and mandates regarding taxing powers and usher in new measures to ensure a fair, transparent, and progressive tax system in South Sudan.
The high-level NRA-State Governments Non-Oil Revenue Mobilization Conference was officially opened by His Excellency Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan:
“This conference is an opportunity to address the challenges of overlapping jurisdiction in revenue collection, including refocusing on mobilizing non-oil revenue as a key factor for building a sustainable, permanent public service delivery system. My wish is that state governments will work with the NRA not in competition but in cooperation for the benefit of our people. I expect all other national government institutions and organizations, especially those that are charged with revenue collection functions, will not hinder the NRA with its mandate to collect revenue,” said His Excellency President Salva Kiir Mayardit, officially opening the conference on 18 May.
The main objective of the conference is to establish a common understanding of the role and mandate of the National Revenue Authority vis-a-vis the role and mandate of State Governments, particularly the State Revenue Authorities. The conference comes at a time of renewed energy and change at the National Revenue Authority, led by Commissioner General Hon. Patrick Mugoya.
“Our discussions during the conference will be enhanced by presentations and references to best practices in the region so we can have a consensus as the same government serving citizens, albeit at different levels,” said Hon. Patrick Mugoya, Commissioner General of the National Revenue Authority.
The NRA is tasked in the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) and in the NRA Act (2016) with pooling and administering all collected revenues in a single treasury account. Simultaneously, the R-ARCSS and Local Governance Act also stipulate responsibilities for state and local governments to collect and manage revenues, without clearly demarcating the individual responsibilities of each institution and level of Government. This dual level of revenue collection sometimes creates tensions in the law and the practice of how non-oil revenue collection is undertaken and managed in the country.
“Taxes are collections from our people and entities to fund government services. The wealth of South Sudan is to be shared equitably in a way that reflects a commitment to devolution. With our current decentralized system, which is not far from the federal system we are working towards, states should look towards collecting funds and annual auditing, which is an important part of these reforms. Collect taxes to serve the people of South Sudan in a transparent manner, according to the law,” said Hon. Lasuba L. Wango, Minister of Federal Affairs.
Minister of Finance and Planning Hon. Athian Ding Athian underlined the progress the country is making on fiscal reforms, and emphasized the need to diversify South Sudan’s revenue base:
“Reliance on oil resources is unsustainable for South Sudan. The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the need to diversify our non-oil resource mobilization. The discussions during this conference should help us establish a common understanding on the roles concerning taxation jurisdiction to ensure a transparent system across South Sudan. Strong institutions are essential for successful state building and delivering peace dividends to the people,” said Hon. Athian.
The conference features participation of all (10) Governors and (3) Administrators in South Sudan, as well as State/Area Ministers of Finance, and Commissioners General of Revenue Authorities. Stakeholders will take away concrete knowledge about the bottlenecks and opportunities within the tax system, and together chart the way forward concerning public financial management powers.
Western Bahr el Ghazal Governor Hon. Sarah Cleto Rial, expressed words of thanks to the organizers of the conference, particularly the NRA, the national Ministry of Finance, and the Office of the President:
“We are here to learn how to better collaborate and coordinate revenue collection to be able to provide services to our people, both nationally and within our states. I am expecting the next two days will be very fruitful, I am opening my mind up to understand, and I am sure this is also the same for my colleagues, including governors, State Ministers of Finance, and the Commissioners of revenue authorities who have gathered in Juba for this event,” said Hon. Governor Rial.
UNDP and the African Development Bank, partners in the implementation of the Non-Oil Revenue Mobilization and Accountability in South Sudan (NORMA) project, work with national and state revenue authorities to provide technical, capacity, and financial support to build a transparent and effective public financial management systems.
AfDB Country Manager for South Sudan, Benedict Kanu is optimistic about the government’s growing commitment toward economic diversification away from oil to more inclusive and productive sectors such as agribusiness, while deepening non-oil revenue mobilization. Kanu reaffirmed that “the future of South Sudan’s economy lies in exploiting the numerous opportunities existing in the agricultural sector through a paradigm shift aimed at developing integrated, sustainable and business-oriented value chains, while creating wealth for the majority of South Sudanese.”
UNDP’s support also comes via the United Nations Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund Joint Programme, implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Finance and Planning, the NRA and UNICEF.
“Getting institutions and systems right is more urgent now than ever, as we all work together to consolidate peace, silence the guns, and facilitate return. This conference is an important step toward ensuring that tax collection results in services to the people. Resolving issues of overlapping tax jurisdictions, will help to ensure a fair, progressive, and transparent tax system in the country,” said UNDP Resident Representative Samuel Doe.
The conference provides space for conversations on the changes and transformations needed for tax administration. At its conclusion on 19 May, participants will agree on a set of conference resolutions, such as the review, revision, and alignment of existing Acts governing public financial management space in South Sudan.
Originally published on UNDP South Sudan