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South Sudan to probe officials, companies over oil deals

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | June 28, 2019
South Sudan said on Thursday it has commenced investigations on officials and companies involved in oil deals to ascertain oil sales, payments and taxes.
President Salva Kiir
African economies   President Salva Kiir
Ateny Wek Ateny, president Salva Kiir's spokesman, said the work of an ad-hoc committee will question officials that include former minister of petroleum Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth and some companies in a bid to balance books with auditors over pre-oil sales, payments and the taxes.

"The terms of reference are very clear there is a term for the investigation to ascertain the number of pre-sale agreements in the past and present deals and the details of companies allocated South Sudan crude oil on the basis of pre-sales," Ateny said.

"They are also to investigate the pre-sales process, off-take sales payments and taxes. They also have to engage the auditor general to audit the pre-sales in order to reconcile payments and liabilities against the government of South Sudan," Ateny told Xinhua in Juba.

The committee led by Elia Lomuro, the Cabinet Affairs minister, will also question officials in the finance ministry and Bank of South Sudan.

Michael Makuei Lueth, minister of information and broadcasting, said the government is also interested in reviewing the contracts entered between South Sudan and the companies responsible for selling crude on behalf of the government.

South Sudan depends 95 percent on oil production to finance its fiscal budget. The crude is transported through Port Sudan.

The youngest nation which is just emerging from conflict since outbreak in December 2013 has not yet passed its 2018/19 fiscal budget after lawmakers last week protested over delays in payment of six months salaries for civil servants and soldiers.

Oil production has of late peaked to 175,000 barrels a day due to prevailing peace after the government and opposition groups signed the revitalized peace deal in September 2018 in Ethiopia.