South Sudan has achieved its highest ever receipt of USD 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 was recorded at the end of January 2019.
This is evidence that the Non-Oil Revenue Mobilization and Accountability (NORMA) project in South Sudan is achieving its objectives.
NORMA was set up with a USD14.8 million grant from the African Development Bank to improve domestic resource mobilization in the non-oil sector.
Accountability, transparency in South Sudan's Revenue Authority
In collaboration with the state National Revenue Authority (NRA), NORMA has driven accountability and transparency in the national revenue generating system.
Since January 1, 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 USD 14.2 million, for the month of January 2019 alone.
African Development Bank Country Manager for South Sudan, Benedict Kanu, lauded the results saying "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."
Tightening accountability systems to increase revenues
These new figures, which are being described by government officials, analysts and development practitioners as amazing, will now be used by the government as a baseline for revenue forecasting.
Further improvement in non-oil revenue mobilization 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."
Financial control and accountability mechanisms
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 the 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 African Development Bank 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 USD 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 put up for the SSRA.
NORMA project upcoming activities
Upcoming activities of the African Development Bank-financed NORMA project include review and drafting of 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 programs for the staff of the SSRA.
Last year, two state-owned companies, South Africa's Central Energy Fund and South Sudan's Nile Petroleum Corporation agreed on South Africa investing over USD 1 billion in Africa's youngest nation.
The investment in the oil and gas industry would see the refinery producing 60,000 barrels of oil per day when complete.
Investing in South Sudan's oil and gas industry
In February, South Sudan entered into an agreement with the African Energy Chamber to provide technical assistance to its petroleum sector in order to build an enabling environment for business and world-class oil industry.
This technical assistance will support South Sudan in building an enabling environment for business and world-class oil industry for the benefits of all citizens and investors.
South Sudan has a longer petroleum industry experience than the other East African countries but years of civil strife have hampered the sector's growth.
You can also read about the Sahara Group urging for partnerships at South Sudan Oil & Power conference and how the East African Business Council is establishing links with South Sudan.