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Increased oil output could ease implementation of South Sudan’s peace deal: experts

South Sudan’s increased oil output, if used effectively, could spur economic recovery and ease implementation of the recently signed peace deal, experts said on Thursday.

The experts said the South Sudan’s plan to raise oil production would help bring in much-needed funds to revive the country’s shattered economy and run the activities of the expanded power-sharing government.

Marial Awou Yol, head of the College of Social and Economic Studies at the University of Juba, said if the war-torn country can resume oil production in full speed, it can help relieve the cash shortage burden on the government and in turn stabilize the economy.

“Our economy is thirsty of resources, we can’t import food now. We can’t supply foreign reserves. We need production of oil to go as far as 350,000 (barrels per day). If we do that, we can be able to rejuvenate the economy and we will have enough resources to implement peace,” the senior economist told Xinhua in Juba.

Leaders of South Sudan’s warring parties on last week signed a “final” power-sharing deal in Ethiopia, aimed at ending a civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 4 million both internally and externally since 2013.

In the deal, the peace partners are expected to form a new transitional unity government in the next eight months.

South Sudan is the most oil-dependent nation in the world, with oil accounting for almost the totality of exports, and around 60 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), according to the World Bank.

But after the young nation descended into civil war in late 2013, oil production declined amid soaring inflation and economic crunch.

The East African nation recently reopened oilfields that were suspended during the war and it hopes to reach its previous daily output of 350,000 barrels in 2019, petroleum minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth announced recently.

Political analyst James Okuk said oil money is key for setting up and sustaining the new unity government because most foreign donors are still hesitant to support the latest agreement after a similar one was shattered in July 2016.

Okuk said though there are provisions for economic and institutional reforms in the peace agreement, the parties must this time show absolute commitment to implement the deal and stem out corruption in the power-sharing government.

“It (oil) will benefit the country and sustain the peace agreement because it was war that drained our resources and forced us into crisis,” Okuk said. “If this agreement is implemented in letter and spirit, it can fight corruption in the country.”

Yol also agrees that corruption is a major issue that must be addressed during the three-year tenure of the power-sharing government.

“In the short history we have been a nation, we have been a corrupt nation and if we don’t stem corruption out, it is not going to let us develop,” Yol said.

“We should reform the institutions of the economy as well as the institutions of the government. This will encourage foreign investment in our country which we need most,” he added.
Source: Xinhua

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