By William Madouk
Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO) has advised the government to prioritize needs of citizens while formulating the forthcoming 2023–2024 fiscal year budget.
Mr. Edmund Yakani, the executive director for CEPO, said that parliament would have a public hearing with civil society to incorporate citizen input before deliberation by lawmakers.
“Next week, we may have a public hearing between CEPO and the committee responsible for the budget, and this is to bring the citizens’ input into the budget before our parliamentarians deliberate,” said Yakani.
He said that it is within the principles of the social contract between citizens and the government to have a public hearing on the contents of the national budget.
The activist urged the parliamentarian to re-adjust the upcoming budget so that it handles adverse economic situations in the country.
“The leadership of the parliament should look at the budget critically because we realized that it has a lot of issues in terms of calculation of figures and allocation of priorities,” Yakani noted.
The renowned activists rued the low budget allocation to service ministries such as education, health, and infrastructure with no attention given to the looming December 2024 general elections.
“We don’t have proper financing of the electoral process and the institutions budgets to create a conducive environment for processes,” he lamented.
Yakani called on the lawmakers to adhere to the Maputo protocol and earmark 10 percent of the budget to the agriculture sector, as required by the protocol.
He also told the legislature to be conscious of the rights of persons with disabilities, as required by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Special Needs.
According to the budget document, the presidency would spend more money than the entire budget of some states.
Financial documents show that the expenditures of the Ministry of Presidential Affairs in the last fiscal year were greater than the allocations to Warrap State, which was 14.4 billion SSP.
For example, while the ministry’s proposed 2023-2024 fiscal year budget exceeds the estimates of the entire Warrap State, which is 13.8 billion SSP,
In the proposed 2023–2024 national budget, the Ministry of Presidential Affairs has been allocated 32.6 billion, while Warrap State’s transfers are proposed to be 13.8 billion.
The 2023–2024 draft budget presented to the National Legislature shows one of the largest budget allocations goes to the security sector.
The security sector includes the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs, the National Security Service, Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration, Demining Authority, and the Financial Intelligence Unit.
The draft budget shows an estimated 1.8 trillion South Sudanese pounds (SSP), of which SSP 182, 621, 370,424 have been earmarked for the security sector.
The money allocated to the security sector accounts for more than 10% of the entire budget.