National, News

SPLM-IO’s budget protest; political propaganda-Makuei

By William Madouk

Minister of Information, Michael Makuei has described SPLM-IO MPs’ boycott of the parliamentary budget passage as a political game played by the opposition party to win South Sudanese confidence.

Mr. Makuei defended the national parliament, largely the SPLM, and other opposition groups, for passing the 2023-024 fiscal year budget with a 400 percent salary hike.

“The marching out of the SPLM-IO is a clear game; they want to deceive the people and other political parties that we are the only people carrying for you. We are the only people who care for you; all the rest don’t care about your own livelihood,” Makuei said in a press conference yesterday.

“But did they [SPLM-IO] care about the lives of the people when they left their livelihood? Which comes first—the lives of the people or the livelihood? So, they should not mislead people with believe that if they raise salary structure to 600 percent then they have won the confidence of the people,” he added.

According to Makuei, the strike was another way of obstructing the way forward, the implementation of the peace agreement, and the movement towards elections.”

Mr. Makuei said the minister of finance was realistic because there was no way he could accept hiking civil servant salaries by 600 percent and later fail to cash it out. “We need to be realistic with the people of South Sudan.”

He claimed that the SPLM-IO party is unrealistic and only cheat people. “They [SPLM-IO] are deceiving the people of South Sudan; they are not realistic in their approach to the issues of South Sudan, and as such, they should not have marched out.”

Makuei alleged the protest was premeditated, saying “when they went out [of parliament], the first deputy speaker of the parliament took out his already-written speech from his pocket and started reading it to the media.”

He added, “They have decided to leave the parliament irrespective of whatever has happened; this is in order to tell the people of South Sudan that people should not listen to misleading information.”

However, the first Deputy Speaker at the National Assembly on the SPLM-IO ticket, Oyet Nathaniel, told No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper on Sunday by phone that they did not regret boycotting the budget sitting.

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

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

Oyet said the argument by the finance minister that there were not enough resources is a fallacy, adding that the proposed wage increment was within the 1.8 trillion budget ceiling approved by the cabinet.

On Friday last week, the national parliament, largely composed of the ruling party, SPLM, and other opposition groups, passed the budget for the 2023-024 fiscal year in spite of the SPLM-IO’s protest.

This arose after the minister of finance, Dr. Bak Barnaba Chol, favored 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 of salaries for affordability, pave the way to invest in key economic sectors, tackle inflation, avoid price volatility in markets, and promise to table a supplementary budget within 5 months.

But after the House adopted the minister’s report, the members of the SPLM-IO ejected it and walked out in protest, yet the extraordinary 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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