South Sudan: Cabinet Affairs Minister Denies Reports of Taking USD 12.9 Billion Loan from UAE Company

The National Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro, has denied reports published in the media and circulating on social media that the Government of South Sudan had taken a USD 12.9 billion loan from a Uninted Aran Emirates (UAE) based company.

Late Last Month, media reports said that a company run by a distant relative of the Abu Dhabi ruling family had agreed to lend South Sudan 12 billion Euros (USD 12.9 billion) in exchange for oil.

The deal was said to have been negotiated on the sidelines of the COP28 Climate Change Summit in Dubai last December.  Documents showed that the Dubai-based Hamad Bin Khalifa Department of Projects (HBK DOP) and South Sudan’s former Finance Minister Dr. Bak Barnaba Chol agreed to and signed the loan.

In a quest for answers, Oyet Nathaniel Peirino, the First Deputy Speaker of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA), during the discussion of President Salva Kiir’s speech on Tuesday, questioned the ministers on why the government went ahead to borrow a substantial amount of money without the approval of the parliament.

“Right Honorable Speaker, we have been hearing on the social media about a USD 12.9 billion loan and I have also seen some signatures involving the name of the previous Minister of Finance (Bak Barnaba),” he said. “We are not against the government bailing out itself in case of financial difficulties. We are not against that but we need the right procedure. If you want to contract a loan, come to parliament to approve it.”

Oyet added: “We can contract any loan, plan it, and encourage paying for government functions, salaries, development, and so on but we do not want any loan to be contracted out there without the knowledge of parliament.”

According to the first deputy speaker, how the government is acquiring loans puts the country in a serious economic crisis. He called on the finance ministry to clear any doubts. 

However, responding to the issue, Dr. Martin Elia Lomuro, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, dismissed the reports, terming them social media allegations.

“Madam Speaker, I am a bit alarmed that our deputy speaker could collect information from social media that there is a loan of USD 12 billion, he stated. “Madam Speaker, this is a house of the people, we cannot bring social media information to come and mislead the community.”

According to Dr. Lomuro, social media information, by law, is unreliable, and illegal and can lead to a court case. The minister further denied seeing documents or a memo about the reported loans.

“If the former minister of finance spoke about a loan, that is an individual, there is no loan, there is no resolution and there is no memo about a loan,” he stated.

Chol Mawel