National, News

Opposition Lawmakers question national budget

By Bida Elly David

Opposition Party parliamentary caucus has questioned the lack of prioritization on implementation of the revitalised peace agreement in the 2023–2024 fiscal year budget.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) parliamentary caucus at the national legislative assembly in a consultative meeting on Sunday criticised the current national budget.

in a statement, the first deputy speaker at the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA), Nathaniel Oyet said the national budget has failed to allocate clear funding to five major areas for the success of the agreement.

“The allocation neither reflected the theme of the budget, “the implementation and consolidation of the peace agreement, nor the Independence Day speech of the president delivered on July 8, 2023,” Oyet said.

The first deputy speaker said the national budget is totally irrelevant to President Kiir’s address on peace and elections mentioned in his independence speech.

“The budget has not totally reflected the President Kiir’s speech, which states consolidation of peace and stability to pave the way for transparent, fair, and credible elections,” Oyet stated.

Mr. Oyet noted that the budget has not addressed nor allocated adequate funding for the implementation of the security arrangement, with much focus on the deployment of phase one and the graduation of phase two of the unified forces.

“The FY2023/2024 budget has not addressed the security arrangements (Phase I and II) as they received no or inadequate allocations,” Oyet pointed out.

The deputy Speaker further said that the national budget has also not taken into consideration the repatriation and resettlement of refugees as well as internally displaced persons.

He added that the population census is one of the key elements that the national budget has not taken into consideration or recognized since it is the only way to determine the number of citizens eligible to vote.

“The population census, the permanent constitutional making process, and the transitional justice process are key provisions that are not reflected in the budget as per allocations,” he outlined.

Oyet further reiterated that the national budget has forgotten to address clear funding for the election process, particularly the budget for the National Electoral Commission and Political Parties Council to start necessary processes as per the roadmap.

He predicted danger to the peace agreement, noting that the national budget failed to allocate funds to most of the key tasks of the exercise.

“In light of the above, the failure to allocate resources for the implementation of these critical tasks may affect the roadmap, including the conduct of elections by December 2024,” Oyet stressed.

He underlined that unless the national budget prioritises allocation for the key pending tasks, the implementation of the peace roadmap would not materialise.

Meanwhile, last week activists asked the National Legislative Assembly to halt 2023–2024 budget scrutiny until the Finance Ministry presents an in-depth report on how the previous financial year’s budget was spent.

The activists held a public hearing on the draft fiscal budget of SSP 2.1 trillion. The event was attended by civil society organisations, women’s representatives, faith-based institutions, representatives of persons with disabilities, and members of the parliament, among others.

The activists said the tendency of the government to assume public expenditure reports are not genuine is against the interests of the public.

“Before you, parliamentarians, pass the 2023–2024 budget, we need an expenditure report. The budget should not be passed if there is no expenditure report,” said one of the civil society activists, Kounda David.

The activist questioned the credibility of passing a budget before accounting for the previous one.

Civil Society activists called on the government to halt passing of the budget without an accountability report for the previous year’s spending.

They requested the presidency to convene a meeting bringing all the heads of parties to the revitalised agreement to encourage their members of parliament to consider passing the new budget.

In a meeting chaired by President Kiir, the Presidency appealed to the political parties to unify their position in regard to passing the national budget, currently before Parliament.

Presidential Affairs Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, in his address to the media after the meeting, said the country’s top leadership is committed to a budget that satisfies the salary scale of the civil servants, military, and organised forces.

“The meeting explored ways to diversify revenue collection in regard to oil production, as the government looks forward to solving some of the problems, like strengthening our pounds so that the salaries given to civil servants, military, and organised forces can be a living wage that a family can afford to have dinner at the table”, Marial said.

The meeting discussed the budget, particularly the issue of deficits.


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