CES Transitional Assembly passes 7.2 billion fiscal budget

Central Equatoria State Transitional Legislative Assembly Members at the passing of the budget on Wednesday 06/04/2022 at Nyakuron Cultural Centre/Photo by Philip Buda

By Philip Buda

The Central Equatoria State Transitional Legislative Assembly (STLA) on Wednesday passed the State fiscal budget ceiling of about 7.2 billion South Sudanese Pounds up from an initial draft budget estimate of 5.1 billion South Sudanese Pounds.

The State assembly deliberated on the annual budget for 2021/2022 in its second reading after the presentation of the parliamentary select budget committee report on the scrutiny of the budget, following its first reading during its first tabling by the State Minister of Finance in March.

James Modi Lomindi, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Information Committee and spokesperson at the STLA affirmed the assembly had approved the budget which has a lot of loopholes with amendments.

“Indeed as a representative parliament of the representatives of the people we decided to work and tried to allocate the resources that had never been actually discovered and we have fixed it to the respective ministries” Modi stated.

“The budget estimate which we have passed today (Wednesday) is about 7,240,238,587 South Sudanese Pounds. This is a very meaningful budget; that I think if the government of Central Equatoria will be able to collect this money, they are going to be able to render services to the entire people of Central Equatoria at their respective locations,” Modi said.

The State assembly spokesperson expressed members’ gratitude saying they are grateful that the resource envelope which has been estimated is actually to mean an achievement in a peaceful and prosperous State of Central Equatoria.

He underscored they have a lot of issues that are happening particularly incidences like cattle raiding, cattle moving from location to location which are very destructive to the people of Central Equatoria particularly those who are farmers, adding that the resource envelope will help them to program and manage to put those issues to rest.

“We are very grateful that we have passed this budget, this budget is a very old one but indeed we expect the budget for fiscal year 2022/2023 to henceforth be able to come at the beginning of July coming month that would actually also be meant for the people of Central Equatoria State and those residing here,” Modi said.

He said as parliament they have decided that they want to see that executive to take a bottom-top budgeting approach.

“This bottom-top budgeting reflects what is done at the local government level, because we do not have a government particularly called it national government, we have a State government and we don’t think about planning which is actually done from the grassroots,” he stressed.

“The government of South Sudan is interested to see into it that we take services to the rural and Central Equatoria government at this very important aspect is also emphasizing and informing the executive that they need to have a bottom-top budgeting which emanate from the village and to come back to the State such that the State can also contribute to the national government” Modi said.

Meanwhile, Wani Tom Sebit, the State Minister of Finance, Planning and Investment lauded assembly select committee for spotting the loopholes in the budget and trying to fix them.

“The scrutiny committee of the parliament did a good job of looking at the gaps of the budget, and in the gaps of the budget was that the projections which were made by the State Revenue institutions were not made up to date and of which they called the technocrats from the various committees and discussed with them about why and how the budget particularly the revenues State owned resources were to that tune, so they explained until it was found out that some of the institutions couldn’t project correctly and they couldn’t release some immediate projections in the Revenue authority” Tom affirmed.

“This budget came timely though according to our calendar or the annual calendar for South Sudan fiscal year starts on the 1st of July every year, we are almost three months to exhaust this budget, however it is very important to have the budget itself because a budget, the purpose of budget is that without a budget you cannot trace the income and expenditure” Tom stated.

“For the last year that we have lived we stayed without budget, so this budget was very important though it’s one day or three months for the expiry it is important for us to use a yardstick, as a litmus paper” the Finance Minister said.

The parliament urged the State government’s executive to expedite the next budget in time.

“I think that is a good spirit I have taken it positively. We will have to work with my counterpart in the national government to make sure that really our budget comes in time so that we will be able to address the issues and the needs of our citizens,” he noted.

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