National, News

South Sudan Assembly approves 2023-2024 budget amidst protest



By William Madouk

The national parliament, predominant of the ruling SPLM party members on Friday, approved 2023-024 fiscal year budget, despite the key opposition party, walkout protest.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) walkout protest stemmed from objection by finance minister against salary increment by 600 %, for civil servants.

Dr. Bak Barnaba Chol favoured a 400 percent increment for civil servant salaries over a proposed 600 percent previously adopted by the lawmakers.

The minister appealed to the lawmakers to maintain the 400 percent increment in salaries for it to be effected and to pave a way for the government to invest in key economic sectors, tackle inflation, and avoid price volatility in markets.

After the House accepted the minister’s appeal, the SPLM-IO members of parliament were dismayed with rejection and opted to boycott the sitting.

Despite the opposition MPs’ walkout protest, the MPs on SPLM ticket and other opposition parties proceeded with passing of the budget in the extra-ordinary sitting.

The Assembly passed a budget to the tune of SSP 1.8 trillion with a defect of 200 billion South Sudanese pounds.

Speaker of the assembly, Jemma Nunu Kumba said that as representatives of the people, they are concerned about civil servants’ welfare, thus considered the 400 percent salary increment.

“The house has passed the financial bill 2023-2024 together with the appropriation bill 2023-2024 with all schedules to the fourth and final reading,” Rt. Hon. Speaker Nunu said.

“Once again, we are concerned about our people, our civil servants, our army, and other organized forces. This is why we are passing this budget with an increment of 400 percent,” she added.

In simple mathematics, a 400 percent salary increment means that your old monthly pay will be multiplied by 4. For instance, if you are a civil servant who used to receive SSP 2,000, you will now receive SSP 8,000 when doubled four times.

Speaker Nunu, however, noted that the finance minister must submit a supplementary budget within 5 months for an additional pay hike.

Ms. Nunu also said the budget will be sent to the president for his instant assent on Monday.

“We need to make our people understand that this decision is based on reality on the ground,” the speaker stressed.

“The ball is now in the hands of the ministry of finance and spending agencies to spend the money to provide services to the people,” she continued.

Meanwhile, the chair of the standing specialized committee for information in the national parliament, John Agany, slammed the opposition party for walking out, citing that it was procedural action.

“We have realized that honorable Members of the SPLM-IO, the party to the agreement, have already walked out of this sitting, which of course they thought would be a solution to the problem,” Agany said.

“We believe walking out is a call for disorderly procedure, which is not supposed to be happening in the Republic of South Sudan,” he added.

Opposition parties such as the Other Opposition Party (OPP), the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), the Former Detainees (FDs), and the National Agenda have all agreed to the 400 percent proposal with the condition that the finance minister present a supplementary budget within 5 months.

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