By Philip Buda Ladu
The passing of National Budget for the fiscal year 2021/2022 has been pushed to Wednesday in its third and fourth final reading stage.
The budget was tabled to the parliament 8 months into the fiscal year by the Ministry of Finance and Planning in February, three quarters of it has been spent.
The Standing Specialized Committee on Finance and Planning at the Transitional National legislature (TNL) reported back to the parliament after scrutinizing the National Budget as mandated by Article 88, Sub-Article (2) of the Transitional Constitution 2011 as amended read together with Regulation 12(4) of TNL Conduct of Business Regulations 2021.
The TNL Finance and Planning Committee presented their analysis, observations and recommendations on the huge 287 billion South Sudanese Pounds 2021/2022 fiscal year budget to the August House on Monday in its second reading and later passed to its third reading stage and the siting adjourned for Wednesday.
Lawmakers at the Transitional National Legislature described the behind schedule national budget as a “postmortem budget” meaning something which has been spent already arguing that there was no need to waste much time deliberating on it.
Changkuoth Bichiock Reth, the Chairperson of the TNL Specialized Committee on Finance and Planning presented the Committee’s report to the parliament in Monday’s Ordinary Sitting No.13/2022.
“For the last one year, we have been operating without an approved budget and since this is a deficit budget our analysis will be brief,” Reth underscored.
Reth said the Finance and Planning Committee in its observations on the national budget established that the Ministry of Finance and Planning is not putting aside money for the Future Generation Funds and Oil Revenues Stabilization Account (FGF & ORSA) which is contrary to Article 178 of the Transitional Constitution 2011 as amended and the Petroleum Revenues Management Act 2012.
The committee noted that despite the fact that oil production decreased in the FY2021/2022, it is fortunate that the oil price is increasing and has bypassed the Ministry of Finance Benchmark price (Dr Blend) which is US$63 per barrel. The difference in the benchmark price could be used to clear the gov’t salary arrears.
It further observed that the entire outstanding amount which the government owes to Sudan was cleared in December 2021 and Sudan was overpaid by default. Sudan now owes South Sudan $13.9 million.
Reth after his presentation of the Committee report asked the August House through the authority of the Rt. Hon Speaker to grant the Finance Committee some days to fix other loopholes they have spotted in the financial Bill.
“Rt. Hon. Speaker, Members of the August House, the Committee on Finance and Planning scrutinized and analyzed the financial Bill 2021/2022 and found out that there are several errors and omissions which require further analysis therefore the committee decided to withhold the Bill for more time because the Bill presented to us there are a lot of omission of pages that are not there so for this we ask for few more days to be able to finalize this within one week,” he said.
The Rt. Hon. Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba in her reaction to the request of the committee said they will allow the committee the chance to harmonize their report on the financial Bill within a week.
However, after the MPs reaction to the presentation on the general principles on the budget, the Rt. Hon. Speaker ruled after a motion was raised to terminate the debate and passed the bills to their third reading stages and adjourned the sitting to Wednesday when the budget will be passed at its final reading with the amendments and corrections.