National, News

SPLM-IO MPs defend Parliament walk-out

By William Madouk

Members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition in the national legislative assembly are unapologetic for walking out at the time of passing of 2023–2024 fiscal year budget.

In an inclusive interview with No. 1 Citizen Newspaper, the first Deputy Speaker at the National Assembly on the SPLM-IO ticket, Nathaniel Oyet, said they do not regret boycotting the budget reading.

“We don’t regret walking out; we want first to work for the decent living of our workforce, members of our ministries, and other organised forces,” said Oyet.

The deputy speaker aims to mark the finance minister’s words of supplementary budget to compensate top up the salary increment.

“They have passed the budget; it’s okay; they have carried the day, but we are going to take the minister by his word; he is coming back after 5 months with a supplementary budget that will affect a 600% increment, whether running or walking,” he added.

Oyet stated that the protest was to avoid interference by the executive in the work of the parliament, citing that August House must be independent and work for the will of the people.

“Other parties joined the SPLM in this move because of intimidation, threats, and blackmail; their position is not independent,” he claimed.

Oyet maintained that the only independent position is the one adopted in the second reading, in which all parties voluntarily agreed to a 600 percent salary increment.

MP Oyet noted they would resume their duties as normal but cited that SPLM-IO staged a walkout protest because they refused to be coerced by executives to do what might be right in their sights.

The first deputy speaker said the argument by the finance minister that there were no enough resources was a fallacy, adding that the proposed wage increment was within the 1.8 trillion ceiling budget approved by the cabinet.

“The executive ceiling is 1.8 trillion, and nobody was intending to violate the ceiling; even the increment of 600% was to be met within the ceiling by relocating resources from one sector to another, from one spending agency to another,” he explained.

According to him, the House was to cut 5.6 percent from the road budget, which is a quarter of the total budget, with the argument that 18 oil barrels allocated for road construction are remitted with zero progress.

Mr. Oyet said many road projects are now halted, but oil barrels allocated for building roads are still reflected in the entire fiscal year budget.

He also criticised the awarding of the contract to one company, ARC, which he alleged to be affiliated to the ruling party, the SPLM.

“We strongly believe that the ARC Company, whose CEO is deputy secretary general for SPLM, is the one who is a beneficiary of the barrels of oil that is flowing for the road even without progress,” he lamented.

The deputy speaker claimed that members of the ruling party were pushed to second the position of the minister.

“Members of the SPLM were beaten into succumbing to pressure that came from the executives through their party, and as such, they also took with them other opposition parties,” Oyet continued.

On Friday, the national parliament largely composed of the ruling party, the SPLM, and other opposition groups, passed the budget for the 2023–2024 fiscal year in spite of the SPLM-IO’s protest.

This arose after the Minister of Finance, Dr. Bak Barnaba Chol, favoured a 400 percent increment for civil servants over a proposed 600 percent previously adopted by lawmakers.

Bak asked the MPs to maintain the original 400 percent increment in salaries for affordability and pave the way to invest in key economic sectors, tackle inflation, and avoid price volatility in markets.

The finance minister also pledged to table before the August House a supplementary budget with a 5-month period for an additional salary hike.

But after the House adopted the minister’s appeal, the members of the SPLM-IO rejected it and boycotted the sitting.

However, the extra-ordinary sitting went on, and the August House passed the budget to the tune of SSP 1.8 trillion with a deficit of SSP 200 billion.



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