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Cabinet implore MPs to ‘first listen to’ Finance Minister

Author: Obaj Okuj | Published: Monday, June 24, 2019

Salvatore Garang, Minister of Finance sited at the parliament following the heated debate about the 2019/2020 FY budget on June 20, 2019 | Credit | Joakino Francis/Eye Radio

Members of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly are expected to return to the parliament this week to debate the new financial year budget as requested by the cabinet.

On Friday, the Council of Minister in its regular meeting asked the parliamentarian to allow the Minister of Finance present the budget, instead of silencing him with protest.

On Thursday, chaos erupted at Freedom hall in Juba when MPs refused to give Salvatore Garang a chance to present the 2019/2020 fiscal year budget, without accounting for unpaid arrears of all civil servants.

They said civil servants at the national level have not been paid for 6 months, while those in the states have not received their salaries for the last 7 months.

The MPs said they will not listen to the reading of a new financial year budget if the ministry does not first clear the 6 months’ salary of all public servants.

The speaker was forced to call off the sitting for another day.

But on Friday, the Council of Ministers criticized the MPs -saying they have gone beyond the question of arrears.

“It seems that there are other issues involved, because people decided to go beyond that question. This is a situation which is not required,” Michael Makuei said, adding that the cabinet demands that the Minister of Finance be given a chance to be heard before the assembly.

“The position of the government is that the budget will be presented and the minister of finance should be given the opportunity to respond and give them his plans for the payment of this arrears,”, he said.

The cabinet cannot however compel the MPs to “bend to its will” since it oversees the performance of national government institutions.

But Makuei insists that the minister has the constitutional right to be heard before the assembly, and respond to questions from the MPs.

“There is no way you will hang a person, and demand for his removal at the time. You have not given that person the rule of justice required that you should be accorded the opportunity,” Makuei added.

According to the constitution, the National Legislature represents the will of the people of South Sudan and shall foster unity and nationhood, exercise legislative functions, oversee the Executive, and promote the decentralized system of government.

The MPs can interrogate Ministers about their performance and cast a vote of no confidence against any Minister.

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