Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- A program by newly independent South Sudan to root out unqualified state workers is being delayed by disputes over who should be affected, a deputy minister said.
The person who was spearheading the campaign, Labour and Public Services Minister Awut Deng Acuil, resigned last month, without saying why. While as many as 65 percent of state workers may have falsified their credentials or are unqualified, public- service jobs are seen as just reward for people who fought in a two-decade civil war that led to South Sudan’s independence on July 9, said Deputy Information Minister Atem Yaak Atem.
“That is the bone of contention,” Atem said by phone today in Juba, the capital. “The principle is acceptable to all; it is how to go about it that is the issue.”
Salaries in South Sudan will consume about 42 percent of its almost $2 billion budget this year. Ninety-eight percent of state revenue comes from oil production that the country inherited from its northern neighbor, Sudan, at independence.
While President Salva Kiir has vowed to fight corruption, a report by the London-based risk analyst group Maplecroft last month said Acuil’s departure “may highlight the power of vested interests against reform.”
Government offices received letters last month from Acuil’s ministry instructing them to form screening committees chaired by deputy ministers to investigate employees’ backgrounds and determine their qualifications. The government has not said when the program will begin.
Some officials are resisting the screening process, Peter D’Souza, an economic adviser to the Joint Donor Team of six countries providing aid to South Sudan, said in a phone interview yesterday in Juba.
“Obviously there are patronage networks and other factors that make that difficult,” he said.
--Editors: Karl Maier, Heather Langan
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