National, News

Parliament rejects request to defer budget

By Bida Elly David

Spokesperson of the Transitional National Parliament rubbished calls from civil society activists to halt deliberation and passing of the 2023-2024 fiscal year budget.

Activists had asked parliament to halt budget scrutiny until the Finance Ministry presents a report on how the previous budget was spent.

Parliamentary spokesperson, John Agany, said there was no way parliament could pause the budget proceedings at a time when the processes have started.

He argued that halting the budget would disrupt government operations and implementation of programs before the elections.

Agany termed the activists’ call as “layman’s” and said they don’t understand government activities.

“Any responsible government cannot operate without an approved budget, and that is what the activists must get into their heads,” Mr. Agany argued.

Agany said any responsible government needs an approved budget to operate.

He said rejecting this year’s budget to wait for the expenditure report would allow the executive to continue spending resources without accountability.

“When we reject this year’s budget simply because the budget of last year was not presented, what do you think the executive will do? They will continue spending the resources of the public because they are not accounted for,” Agany defended.

However, he acknowledged the need for the government to account for spending and said accountability can be done later even after years.

As parliament proceeds with scrutinizing and passing the budget, Agany said the lawmakers will also ask the executive to present the expenditure report.

But he stressed that sending the budget back or halting it would indicate the government has failed to function properly.

The parliament spokesperson rejected halting the budget but agreed on the need for the government to be accountable for how funds were spent in the past.

Parliament plans to proceed with passing the new budget while also requesting the expenditure report from the executive, he said.

During the open hearing of the budget, activists said the tendency of the government to assume expenditure reports are not genuine and against the interests of the public.

The activists attributed the ongoing economic turmoil and salary delays in the country to what they termed as “political game played by senior officials concerning the national budget.”


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