15th May 2021
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Gov’t ‘deliberately choking’ watchdog institutions—MP

Author: Okot Emmanuel | Published: Saturday, May 1, 2021

File: South Sudanese demonstrate in Juba after the naming of the "75 corrupt officials" by the President in 2013.

A legislator has accused the government of intentionally crippling institutions charged with ensuring transparency in the management of public resources, the economy and the financial system.

They include the anti-corruption commission, audit chamber and the public accounts committee in the legislative houses.

The revitalized peace agreement expects the unity government to be transparent and accountable, with fully functional legal, institutional, policies and procedures for sustainable development.

But honorable Kot Martin, the Chairperson of the Committee of Public Accounts of the yet-to-be reconstituted national parliament says these institutions are being circumvented to entrenched corruption-especially in the government public procurement system.

Government procurement is the process by which the government acquires goods and services it needs by purchasing from commercial businesses.

“Public procurement is the hardest thing in this country, the law is there but it is not being followed, so what is happening is that every institution is doing their public procurement at their will, by law the ministry of finance is the one to follow issues of contract but that is not happening,” Hon. Kot said.

He cited the contract surrounding the construction of the Juba-Rumbek Road, where there was no public bidding in the selection process.

“Somebody thinks he or she is more powerful than the minister of finance and this is what is happening. Someone is so powerful and can make a decision and take his or her contract without questioning,” the legislator added.

He stated that government agencies use taxpayer and oil money with total disregard for regulations set for proper and responsible management.

Hon. Kot professed that some investors influence procurement procedures to gain favors through irregular payments to government officials so as to obtain public contracts.

Corruption watchdog like the U.S-based The Sentry says financial corruption in South Sudan is deeply rooted and institutionalized.

It believes this is due to complex procedures, broad discretion, weak oversight and limited implementation capacity.

Honorable Kot suggested that the underfunding of his committee and others is to avoid transparency and accountability measures in the management of public resources.

“The powers that will enhance anti-corruption for instance powers of investigation and powers of prosecution or investigation are denied. For the last few years, we have been struggling in the parliament so that they are given those powers, until today the powers are not given to them, so they are totally crippled and they cannot do anything.”

He further revealed that the National Audit Chamber has offices across the country, but “they are not functioning  because the finance ministry is not willing to give them resources.”

The revitalized peace agreement stipulates that the wealth of South Sudan shall be shared equitably so as to enable each level of government to discharge its reconstruction, development, legal and constitutional obligations, duties and responsibilities.

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