National, News, Politics

Lawmakers raise eyebrows over budget misappropriation

Lawmakers in an Ordinary sitting of the Transitional National Legislature at the Freedom Hall (File Photo: Philip Buda Ladu)

By Philip Buda Ladu

The Ministry of Finance and planning has been urged to relinquish the management of government spending agencies’ money allocated to the various agencies under the national fiscal year budget.

Ministers and some heads of public institutions including lawmakers have complained of the Ministry of Finance’s misappropriation of budgeted funds when it comes to the operationalization of their approved (cash) budget.

The Ministry of Finance and Planning, has been blamed for deciding on who to pay on behalf of the spending agencies; contracts and payments, something which the Ministers said undermines their priorities.

The Ministers and MPs poured out their frustrations on the Finance Ministry’s mismanagement practices on Monday during a parliamentary sitting for the second reading of the 2021/2022 fiscal year budget which was presented to the parliament 8 months later into the fiscal year. 

Angelina Teny, the Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs accused the Ministry of Finance and Planning for mismanaging Spending Agencies’ budget with misplaced priorities not in the interest of the agencies.

Madam Angelina said much as they; the government institutions agreed to the use of Single Account Treasury (SAT), there is dictation by the Finance Ministry when it comes to the management of the spending agencies’ budget liquidity.

“Yes, we agreed to the Single Treasury Account however, the management of the budget must be really left for the spending agencies because it’s the biggest area of corruption,” alarmed Angelina Teny, the Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Madam Angelina said for them in the Ministry of Defense; “we draw contracts, for instance contracts for the delivery of food, lubricants or fuels. Now when we draw contracts, we send the contracts and specify the ways and the mode of payment, now the Minister of Finance decides which contract to pay and which one not to pay,” Minister Angelina exclaimed.

She stressed that after the Ministry of Finance has paid the contracts they chose, they don’t even get back to the Ministry of Defense as in the case to satisfy that such a contract has been delivered or the obligation has been made.

“So, the point I am making and I am adding it to the Committee is that the spending agencies must be allowed to decide their priorities and manage their own budget–this will help us a lot, because this has put us into a lot of problems, in fact a lot of debt,” Angelina asserted.

The Defense Minister argued that the reason as to why the public hear scenarios of business people being paid money yet they have not delivered is because the Ministry of Finance dictates on the management of spending agencies’ budget that they decide who to pay.

Meanwhile, Josephine Napwon Comas, the National Minister of Environment and Forestry also blamed the Ministry of Finance and Planning for interfering in the operationalization of the budgets allocation to government Spending Agencies.

Minister Napwon said after passing the budget which is in figure, they hardly get all the liquid part of the budget as institutions concerned.

“It is unfortunate that we are passing the budget which has been used and we are some of the institutions, we are very surprised to see that most of budgets in our ministries have been exhausted and we don’t know how we have used the money or the budget which we have planned ourselves,” Napwon rendered her observations on the budget deliberation.

“So, this goes to the Ministry of Finance, of course we always pass the budget in figures but when it comes to the cash, we as the institutions that are concern don’t get all the amount that we have budgeted for, so this is the concern we have” Minister Napwon reiterated.

Samuel Buhori Lotti, a lawmaker from Eastern Equatoria State, Torit on the docket of South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) in his reaction to the financial bill report to the parliament said from the Finance Committee analysis, they saw there are a lot of issues that the August house has to address.

 “I have realized even from our committee, this question of some institutions overspending their budget, and the Ministry of Finance has not come out clear as to how other ministries are given more preferences than the other” Samuel said.

The lawmaker underlined that they need to correspond well because the August House has not been receiving the report of the Auditor General saying it’s only with the report of the Auditor that they can hold the Ministry of Finance accountable for some of the misappropriation of allocated budget.

Samuel said the Ministry of National Security spent only 80% of their 2021/2022 allocated budget whereas the Ministry of Interior overspent their 2021/2022 budget allocation by 190%.  He questioned the spending motives of those ministries where they get their money.

Bischiok Gabriel Rorich, another Member of Parliament at the TNLA representing Yirol East of Lakes State on a National Congress Party (NCP) ticket said this year’s budget is a deficit budget which comes late.

Gabriel said all the previous budgets always come late for its approval, he said the Ministry of Finance and Planning must produce a quarterly report on the budget every year something which has not been done this year and the other previous years.

Spending Agencies especially those from the accountability sector including; the Anti-Corruption Commission, Audit Chamber, National Bureau of Statistics, Human Rights Commission among others have often complaint of underfunding of their budget by the Ministry of Finance.

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