18th July 2019
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Parliament in disarray as MPs refuse to listen to new budget

Authors: | Joakino Francis | Published: 4 weeks ago

Some MPs consult with the Speaker after the parliament erupted into disorder on June 20, 2019

Chaos erupted Thursday morning at the Transitional National Legislative Assembly after MPs refused to give the Minister of Finance a chance to present the 2019/2020 fiscal year budget, without accounting for the unpaid arrears of all civil servants.

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

Finance Minister Salvatore Garang, who was given the chance to present the new budget was immediately met with rebuke and noise as MPs stood up shouting -forcing the speaker, Lino Makana to call off the sitting.

The MPs demanded for an explanation of why civil servants salaries have not been paid for several months.

Some said if the Ministry of Finance can not account for funds allocated for salary in the previous budget, he should not present a new one.

Last year, the parliament passed over 81-billion South Sudanese pounds budget whose focus was to clear arrears, including salaries and government obligations to international and regional bodies

The 2018/2019 budget was to also enable the government pay for the peace process, security sector reform, infrastructure, education, water, health, among others.

But over the last year, the government has openly complaint about lack of funds to support the transitional period through the National Pre-Transitional Committee.

Civil servants, including soldiers and other security personnel have also not been paid for the last 6 months.

Last Friday, the Council of Ministers passed the draft budget of more than 208 billion pounds for the fiscal year 2019/2020.

Much of the allocations were to go to infrastructure and road constructions.

As demanded by the constitution, the Minister, Salvatore Garang came to the parliament on Thursday to present it for scrutiny and endorsement by the parliamentarians.

But as soon as the minister took to the podium in the August house, the lawmakers stood up –calling to the attention of the speaker some of their grievances.

“Our army is cutting down trees to make charcoal for their children to survive, we are not able to pay for one for our foreign missions. Our teachers prefer to work with the NGOs than with the government. What are we really doing,” said Hon. Elizabeth Adut, representing Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.

“Mr. Speaker, the salaries for the budget of the financial year 2018/2019 have not been paid upto today. How can we debate the new bill yet the previous bill has not been accounted for,” one MP said.

“In Juba, the salaries for 6 months have not been paid, while in the states the salaries for 7 months have also not been paid,” said another MP.

Some said they will not listen to the reading of a new financial year budget before the Finance ministry clears 6 months’ salary of all public servants.

“We are telling the Minister of Finance that –if you are not able to do this job, please go home.”

After consulting with the Chief Whips, the speaker, Anthony Lino Makana was forced to adjourned the sitting until next Monday.

“You are expressing your democratic right to talk, but when we are expressing our democratic right, your right should end where the right of the other person begin. What you have said, I have heard. I hereby adjourn the sitting for today, until I call you again,” Makana concluded.

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