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South Sudan spends more on security than health, World Bank says

Ejulu Elamu
The World Bank has said South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest nations, is spending more money on security than underfunded sectors like health and education.
6.05.2013  |  Juba
While medicine is often short in supply, the South Sudan Government spent 38% of its 2012 budget on security.
While medicine is often short in supply, the South Sudan Government spent 38% of its 2012 budget on security.

In a report titled Public Expenditures in South Sudan: Are they Delivering?” the World Bank said South Sudan’s budget expenses overshot by US$300 per capita, three times more than figures for Rwanda and Uganda. Sudan meanwhile overspent by US$200 per head.

This, and a series of recent reports, raise questions about how state funds are being spent in the country. South Sudan is caught in an economic downward spiral after a spat with Sudan prompted it to shut down oil production, which had accounted for around 97 percent of revenue. Earlier this month, South Sudan re-launched oil production: The first cargo is due to arrive in Port Sudan by the end of May.

South Sudan meanwhile is struggling to pay salaries and the budgets for several government institutions.

In 2012/13 fiscal year the government spent SSP 4 billion ($0.91 billion) on wages in contrast to 2011/12 when it spent SSP 3.7 billion.

The report said that the country’s operating expenditures are high, accounting for 40 percent of total expenditure, and they have been rising in recent years.

The transnational institution stressed that the nation would have to scrutinise how it operates. It will be important to analyse and re-classify, operating expenditures, which often include many wage and salary elements and transfers. It may also be necessary to identify areas of cost savings and rationalisation,” according to the report.

Analysts said that the country needs to move beyond its oil dependency, which renders it vulnerable to fluctuating global prices.

In March South Sudan’s Director of Budget Ocum Karlo told the newspaper Southern Eye that part of the reason the government is spending so much on salaries and operation costs is because donor partners have cut funding to the state.

He added that the government was finding it hard to persuade donors to provide more funds.

The 2011 budget allocated eight and four percent to education and health respectively but only six percent was actually paid to the two sectors together, noted the World Bank. Security meanwhile, was allocated about 38 percent of the total budget, more than six times the amount spent on health and education.

In terms of key indicators like the infant and maternal mortality rate, South Sudan is among the worst performers worldwide. In 2010 infant mortality rate was 135 per 1,000 live births compared to 102 per 1,000 live births in 2006.

The report noted that the mortality rate of children under-five lags its East African neighbours. Only 12.8 percent of pregnant women receive health services below the East African regional average.