By Solomon Akot Mawien
OPINION – This month, an individual calling himself Kuir Awien Kuir published an article titled “Finance Minister Hon. Athian Accused the President of Too Much Corruption in the Country”. The author made wild allegations and attributed them to Hon. Athian Diing Athian. The intention of this individual was to create a rift between President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his appointed Minister of Finance.
Reading through this article, one is left to wonder as to the motive of this author who is simply full of malice, vindictiveness and hate for the Honourable Minister and the wonderful work he is doing for the people of the Republic of South Sudan. It is quite sad that people like the disgruntled author of this baseless article find it appropriate to assassinate the characters of senior government officials like Honourable Athian Diing Athian who are working tirelessly to serve the people of South Sudan and by extension the President of the Republic, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit.
For a start, Hon. Athian Diing Athian is a man with impeccable track record in the management of economy and public resources. He served as Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in 2018. As a result of his dedication, determination and hardwork, Hon. Athian Diing Athian was appointed by the President of the Republic in September 2020 to head the Ministry of Finance and Planning. Hon. Athian Diing Athian won the confidence of the President and that was the reason for his appointment as Minister of Finance and Planning.
Has Honourable Athian Diing Athian delivered on his mandate at the Minister of Finance and Planning? The answer is a resounding YES for the following reasons;
Stable inflation rate
Before his appointment as Minister of Finance and Planning, South Sudan was going through exponential and erratic inflation rate. Since his appointment, the inflation rate has stabilized. Long queues have become a thing of the past at petrol stations in Juba. Prices of basic commodities including foodstuff and medicines have dropped drastically allowing citizens of South Sudan to afford to put food on their tables. The National Bureau of Statistics has also reported stable inflation rates for basic goods and services.
Strong South Sudanese Pounds
Since the appointment of Hon. Athian Diing Athian as the Minister of Finance and Planning, the rate of exchange of South Sudanese Pounds against US Dollars and other currency has stabilized. The exchange rates dropped from the all-time high of 650 South Sudanese to 1 US Dollar to 400 South Sudanese to 1 US Dollar. The exchange rate has been stable since then and it is expected to drop even further with current prevailing peace and stability in the country expected to be cemented by the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity in May 2019.
Improved revenue collection and remittance
For the last few months, the National Revenue Authority and the Customs have reported increased revenue collection and remittance to the coffers of the government which is managed by the Ministry of Finance and Planning. It is unfortunate that certain characters such as the author of this malicious article are not aware that the National Revenue Authority falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance and Planning. Hon. Athian Diing Athian introduced measures that ensured that non-oil revenues are not diverted into pockets of individuals. Hon. Athian Diing has ensured a good working relationship between the National Revenue Authority (NRA), Customs Department and the Bank of South Sudan. As a result of improved revenue collection, the Government of the Republic of South Sudan has been able to deliver some basic services to the citizens of South Sudan.
Stopped Borrowing from the Domestic Market (Bank of South Sudan and Commercial Bank)
Since his appointment, Hon. Athian Diing Athian has stopped domestic borrowing from the Bank of South Sudan and Commercial banks operating in South Sudan. It is not easy but Hon. Athian Diing Athian is doing his best to ensure that the domestic borrowing doesn’t erode confidence-building measures initiated by the Honourable Minister to improve economic situation in South Sudan.
Launch of the National Development Strategy for South Sudan (NDSSS)
Under the able leadership of Honourable Athian Diing Athian, the Government of South Sudan in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme launched the National Development Strategy for South Sudan for the period 2018 – 2021. The National Strategy provides the much needed blue print for economic recovery and development in South Sudan during the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCISS) and even beyond.
Improved Confidence and Renewed Relationship with IMF and World Bank
Under the leadership of Hon. Athian Diing Athian, the Republic of South Sudan has once again gained respect of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). It was through prudent use of loan from these institutions that South Sudan was able to receive nearly USD 500 million as loan and grants. Under his leadership as National Minister of Finance, Hon. Athian Diing Athian has ensured that this money has been put to good use by stablilizing the exchange rate as well as payment of salaries for civil servants and security forces on time. Hon. Athian Diing worked tirelessly to ensure that salaries arrears have been cleared. He has also ensured that the ongoing infrastructural projects such as major highways are funded so that they do not stall. These projects were initiated and supervised by President Salva Kiir Mayardit. By ensuring that these projects are funded, Hon. Athian Diing Athian is supporting the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit to succeed. The successful implementation of these projects will form part of enduring legacy for the President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
Support to Small and Medium Enterprise Sector (SMEs)
In any economy, small and medium enterprise (SMEs) sector plays a crucial role in the development of an economy. SMEs contribute immensely in terms of production, employment as well as exports and facilitating equitable distribution of income. Under his leadership and during his short tenure as Minister of Finance & Planning, Hon. Athian Diing Athian is working with the World Bank and IMF to ensure that a credit facility is created through International Finance Corporation (IFC) to provide loan to small businesses who were adversely affected by Corona Virus (COVID-19) Pandemic.
With this impeccable record of success, one is left to wonder what would have provoked this unwarranted attack on the personality of Honourable Athian Diing Athian by this malicious author? Do his wild baseless allegations against the Minister of Finance and Planning deserved to be responded? The author is using a fictitious name and not his real identity. It is my firm believe that the author of this baseless article is a member of cartel who have milked the Ministry of Finance and Planning dry.
He is part of the group who have this false sense of entitlement that they are only ones who should be allocated resources of the country at the expense of the majority of the citizens of this country. The moment they are told to give others to have a go at the national cake, they fight back like a scorned woman. They are not happy that Honourable Athian Diing Athian has closed some loopholes that individuals have been using to loot the scarce resources of the country. When they are caught and outed, they resort to dirty tricks such as assassinating characters of hard working individuals like Honourable Minister of Finance and Planning.
To set the record straight, it is important to note here that Honourable Athian Diing Athian doesn’t condone the so-called “the culture of bribery policy in the payment transactions”. Honourable Athian Diing Athian is a man of people and he doesn’t exhibit nepotism or favouritism in any form or shape. Honourable Athian Diing Athian is not a businessman; he is not a shareholder or director in the company mentioned in the malicious article.
The author of this article wishes to call upon all South Sudanese to refrain from the dirty politics of assassinating characters of senior government officials just for their selfish personal gain. South Sudan is country endowed with natural resources that if harnessed, will be enough for everyone. I hereby called on South Sudanese to put their skills to good use instead of wasting time maligning character of respectable individuals like Honourable Athian Diing Athian who have dedicated their lives to public service.
Finally, Honourable Athian Diing Athian was appointed the Minister of Finance and Planning by the President of the Republic because the
President has confidence in him. Let’s stop cheap politics of character assassination, lies, hearsays and propaganda against hard working men and women who have been put in senior positions by the President of the Republic. Give Honourable Athian Diing Athian a break and let him do his work.
Solomon Akot Mawien is an Author and Commentator on Current Social, Economic and Political issues in South Sudan. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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