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Parliament and Executive at impasse over new budget reading

Authors: Emmanuel Akile | Joakino Francis | Published: Monday, June 24, 2019

TNLA speaker, Hon. Lino Makana exchange words with the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Bashir Bendi during the heated debate on Thursday, June 20, 2019. PHOTO: Joakino Francis/Eye Radio

Members of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly were involved in close door meetings today as various caucuses met to discuss last week’s incident.

There was no sitting in the main hall of the parliament or at the Freedom hall in Juba.

When asked by Eye Radio’s reporter to provide updates on what is going on, the chairperson of the Information Committee, Honorable Paul Yoane had little to say: “I have no comment about it, no comment, no comment again!”

Honorable Yoane could not confirm or deny whether there will another sitting to listen to the financial year budget 2019/2020 as requested by the executive.

“I’m not telling you that there is no sitting or there is sitting tomorrow…I’m saying no comment for time being,” he said.

His unforthcoming reaction follows Friday’s criticism by the Minister of Information -after the Council of Ministers’ meeting -where the cabinet castigated the MPs for denying the Finance minister a chance to present the budget.

On Thursday, the MPs refused to listen to a presentation of the 2019/2020 fiscal year budget by Salvatore Garang.

The lawmakers said they will not allow the reading to proceed if the minister does not pay salaries of all civil servants.

They said government employees 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.

Read related story: https://eyeradio.org/mps-shut-down-new-budget-hearing-over-unpaid-salaries-for-civil-servants/

The choatic atmosphere at the parliamentary sitting at Freedom hall in Juba forced the speaker, Lino Anthony Makana to call off the session for another day.

The act by the MPs was criticized by the cabinet on Friday -with Michael Makuei saying “they have gone beyond the question of arrears.”

“It seems that there are other issues involved…this is a situation which is not required,” Makuei said.

He further said the cabinet expect the parliament to first give minister Salvatore Garang an opportunity to explain his plans regarding the salaries.

Read related story: https://eyeradio.org/cabinet-implore-mps-to-first-listen-to-finance-minister/

However, a Member of the Transitional parliament, Honorable Dharuai Mabor told Eye Radio that they will not be forced by the executive to pass the new budget without the clearance of unpaid salaries.

“For us the parliament is not going to be ready and we will never be ready again to discuss the budget without a program,” he said.

Honorable Mabor added the MPs now demands that the executive explain and provide proof of how it spent the fiscal year budget for the last 2 years.

“Can you bring the new budget to be discussed when you have not brought the annual expenditure report of 2018/2019 budget? How did they use it? The use of this budget must be brought to the parliament [so that] we discuss it for accountability [purpose],” he said.

According to the transitional constitution, the cabinet cannot compel the MPs to “bend to its will” since it oversees the performance of national government institutions.

The August house “represents the will of the people of South Sudan and oversee the Executive.”

The constitution also gives the MPs the power to  interrogate Ministers about their performance and cast a vote of no confidence against any Minister.

“What we expect from the cabinet is to bring their programs [because] in 2017/2018, 2018/2019 budet we experienced a difficult situation from the executive where you will find that every spending agency brought the same program of 2017/2018, and it will appear again in 2018/2019 budget,” Honorable Mabor added.

There are three regular sessions every week at the national parliament -on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

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