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MPs set to get additional $25, 000 despite public outcry

Authors: Emmanuel Akile | Joakino Francis | Published: Friday, March 6, 2020

PHOTO: Hon Scopas Taban Lokabang [left], Hon Gabriel Guot Guot [center], Hon Paul Yoane Bonju [right] addressing the media at parliament building. Photo by Joakino Francis/Eye Radio -Thursday Mar 5, 2020

Parliamentarians in the transitional national legislative assembly will soon receive another $25, 000 each as health insurance, a member of parliament has said. 

Last week, the lawmakers received $25, 000 each as health insurance.

If the parliamentarians receive this additional amount, it will make it to $50, 000 each as health insurance.

The Transitional Constitution of South Sudan provides for Members of the National Legislature to be paid emoluments and be provided with facilities as determined by law.

Members of the August House told the press on Thursday that they demanded $50,000 during the 2019/2020 budgeting process but instead they were paid $25,000 last week.

Hon. Scopas Taban Lokabang, a member of the specialized committee of Petroleum, Energy, and Mining disclosed that they will soon receive the remaining $25, 000 from initial $50, 000.

“Let me tell you, with the love of our President for this country, and love of the President for his citizens, we are going to receive another $25,000, to add up to $50,000, according to the law which we already put and he signed,” Hon. Lokabang said.

The MP accused the media of making noise over $25, 000 paid to MPs, arguing that media never bothered to report parliamentarians who succumbed to preventable diseases since they could not afford to meet the treatment cost.

“When the government executing its mandate and decided to give these people [MPs] $25, 000 so that to prevent so that this number reduced, and you [media] could not come to cover those funeral prayers, and you are specialized in exaggerating.”

In 2018, the legislatures were given about $40,000 “car loans”.

Advocates without borders –an entity of human rights lawyers, criticized the financial offer to MPs, describing it as an abuse of public funds.

However, the chairperson of the information committee in the parliament – Paul Yoane Bonju said the money was already planned for in the 2019/2020 national budget.

The Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan provides for Members of the National Legislature to be paid emoluments and be provided with facilities as determined by law.

But the Constitution does not say how much the MPs should get as emoluments.

Reacting to the matter, some members of the public who spoke to Eye Radio on Friday have criticized the MPs for receiving the money saying they are not working for the interest of ordinary citizens.

“These MPs should not compare themselves with those in Kenya, Uganda or Rwanda, those MPs are performing well. When any problem happens somewhere, they don’t keep quiet, they go there and address it,” Majok, a caller in Juba told Eye Radio.

“Our MPs only know how to defend their rights but they don’t know how to defend the rights of citizens. Civil servants have not received their salaries for several months and the MPs are silent.”

“If the medical insurance starts with them as MPs and we the civil servants don’t have, what does this mean? It makes no sense! We are still receiving poor pay, we don’t even have medical insurance,” said Philip Clement from Aweil.

“All these MPs are receiving treatment outside the country and civil servants don’t have the opportunity to seek medical treatment outside. Is this country for these MPs alone, or the citizens as well? We don’t agree with this move.”

“These MPs are saying they are performing their duties, what are they really doing? There are so many problems happening in this country especially with the civil servants,” said Santino John from Nzara.

“They cannot even summon the minister of finance. Desert locusts destroying farms, the MPs are quiet about it.”

“Forces in the cantonment sites are complaining of hunger and lack of medicines and shelters and yet these MPs claim that they are performing. Are they working for the interest of the ordinary citizens or of the government?” Santino asked.

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