Developing Southern Sudan's economic programs (Part 3)

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(AFP/FIle) - Sudanese women sell greens at a market in Juba, southern Sudan.

"Taxes on internal trade in Southern Sudan have to be abolished. Local governments can supplement their revenues by charging minimal poll taxes, based on the incomes of their residents but not on quantities of particular commodities produced, as taxes on specific commodities tend to stifle production," argues southern Sudanese developmental economist, Prof. Yongo-Bure, in this third installment of the series.

(Flint, Michigan) - With roads now linking the urban with rural areas, import substitution of food products should be embarked on. This needs prioritization on rural roads, bridges, trucks (lorries), bicycles, storage facilities, paying farmers cash on delivery, etc. Both the public and private sectors should be involved. Domestic food supply should displace much of the imported food as transport cost will be lower if roads and bridges are reconstructed or constructed. Rising incomes in the rural areas will have multiple beneficial effects such as ability to undertake community self-help activities, reduce dependence and corruption as rural population will earn their own incomes instead of depending on government employed relatives whose income cannot take care of all relatives; and are hence induced to supplement their salaries illegitimately. Taxes on internal trade in Southern Sudan have to be abolished. Local governments can supplement their revenues by charging minimal poll taxes, based on the incomes of their residents but not on quantities of particular commodities produced, as taxes on specific commodities tend to stifle production.

As most food imports from Kenya and Uganda will be produced in Southern Sudan, these countries, among others, will be propelled to trade with Southern Sudan in higher-valued manufactures, which will take time for Southern Sudan to produce. With abundant and cheaper food supply in urban areas, the cost of living will fall and so will the cost of production in industry and other sectors. The tax bases of state and local governments will also be enhanced and so will their abilities to undertake their programs such as education, health, and water supply. Raw material for agro-industry and export earnings for servicing and expanding the economy will be ensured, thus reducing overdependence on oil export earnings and revenue.

For a long-tern strategy to minimize reliance on exhaustible resource like oil, the South should begin to develop a variety of export crops. In addition to oil seeds, coffee, cotton, tea, and palm oil have been grown for cash in Southern Sudan. In the 1990s, other crops had demonstrated their potential for supplying the local and export markets. These crops included shea butter, chilies, sunflower, gum arabic, soybeans, vegetables, fruits, and honey. In the short-run, expansion in the production of these crops should be encouraged. But in the medium and long-run, research into these crops for varieties that are high-yielding, pest and disease resistant will be important. Availability of consumer goods gives the peasants incentives to earn more income.

Since there is hardly any domestic manufacturing, imports of consumer goods should be biased towards the basic needs and wants of the peasants. Import of household utensils, basic textiles, blankets, bicycles, sewing machines, farm implements, baggage, building materials, etc will spur higher development effort.

There should be continuous vaccination programs of livestock. Also essential for the animal industry are the provision of dry season watering points, and the creation of artificial lakes for dry season watering and grazing. Training of many veterinarians and veterinary assistants must be greatly expanded. Research and cross-breeding will have to be restarted. Veterinary laboratories for vaccine production and testing have to be constructed. Local government taxation of cattle could help speed up the controlling of chronic animal diseases and provision of watering points as well as improvement of rangelands, and primary education. A one pound tax per head on half (or over twenty) of one’s herds of cattle, and the tax revenue used in the local community would probably be accepted by the majority of the livestock owners.

Construction of local access rural roads should be among the priorities of quick-impact programs. In light of the constraints on the reconstruction and construction capacity, there is need for instituting labor-intensive public works programs at the county level to begin work on rural infrastructure. Each county should be equipped with a basic package of road construction equipment with maintenance capacity. The county road equipment will be complemented with rural manual labor thus increasing employment opportunities and reducing instability as many youth will be productively employed. The use of local labor will infuse more cash into the rural economy and raise income and trade, in addition to raising the general productivity of the economy.

Oil refineries should be built in the oil producing areas, with pipelines linking the refineries to the major Southern consuming areas. Large oil storage depots should be built in every county. All these measures will ensure reliability of fuel supply at lower prices. The multiplier effects of the construction and operation of refineries and pipelines will considerably contribute to the alleviation of poverty.

GOSS has done substantial work in the area of providing social services such as education, health, and rural water supply although a lot remains to be done given the low level of where the South began from. Much has been done in terms of rehabilitating and building primary health care and Maternal and Child Health (MCH) units all over Southern Sudan. Attention has been paid to raising HIV/AIDS awareness.  However, there is need for a functioning hospital in each county. Each state should have at least a modern referral and research hospital in the next five years. Sending government officials abroad for medical care is too expensive and discriminates against the ordinary citizen. Let the South create its own modern facilities such as those in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, etc to which the GOSS officials go for better medical treatment. The national facilities with have far greater impact on health in Southern Sudan than the foreign ones. The problems of water borne disease can be most effectively addressed by supplying clean water in both rural and urban areas. More boreholes should be drilled in the rural areas so as to cover all the rural population. Piped water supply should be available to all residents of cities in the long-run. In the short-run, boreholes should supplement urban water supply. In the long-run, boreholes are not appropriate means for urban water supply given seepage from pit latrines and sewages.

Facilities and spare parts for the servicing and maintenance of water supply machinery, equipment, and vehicles should be available at the county level. Other important long-term policy issues, regarding drinking water, include the building of community capacity to maintain the installed facilities as well as the extension of the services to cover all the population. This will involve training of servicing and maintenance capacity at the county and eventually at the community level. Local sources of funds, to be supplemented with central resources, will have to be developed.

*Dr. Yongo-Bure is associate professor of Social Science at Kettering University, USA. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 


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