By Bida Elly David
South Sudan national Parliament on Tuesday resolved to launch an investigative against Western Equatoria State Governor, Gen. Alfred Futuyo Karaba.
The Parliament resolved to set up a committee, tasked to investigate claims of misappropriation of salary arrears meant for official of defunct states which were amalgamated to Western Equatoria.
Though Futuyo on Tuesday appeared before the National Legislative Assembly to answer questions on the alleged mismanagement, but the legislators were not satisfied.
In his defense report presented to the parliament, Futuyo denied any involvement in the purported misappropriation of salaries of civil servants of 32-state era.
The governor defended his position that from the date of his appointment, salaries for Western Equatoria state civil servants have been remitted through the Treasury.
“My government was paying all the civil servants from the aforementioned states. We paid them for 14 months, including their arrears for 2019–2020,” said Futuyo.
However, Futuyo said that 2021–22 fiscal year budget affected payment of employees for the defunct states.
“The 2021-2022 budget ceiling formulated by the national government excluded the 32 state salaries,” he explained.
Automatically, the new budget ceiling affected four defunct states, Tombura, Amadi, Maridi, and Gbundwe States, which fell under Western Equatoria state.
Governor Futuyo said about SSP 11 billion used to be remitted each financial year, but in 2019 and 2020, only SSP 3 billion was released.
The governor told the Parliament that national ministry of finance has never transferred funds to the state government to clear arrears of employees of the defunct States.
“Are the employees in need of money from me or are we the ones who want the unpaid balance of SSP 8 billion as our remaining budget ceiling from the government for paying our staff?” he questioned.
On the integration of the employees of the defunct states, Futuyo said they have all been enrolled in the current human resource state file.
He said that the state has completed the integration process of the defunct state civil servants and submitted the documents to the national government.
However, Futuyo’s frantic attempt to prove his innocence in alleged misappropriation hit snug as lawmakers claimed it never contained a gist of interest.
The lawmakers advanced a demand for proper report showing detailed payments to the staff through a simplified payroll.
Grace Abalang, an MP representing Eastern Equatoria state, criticized Futuyo’s report, terming it unsubstantiated.
“What happens in Western Equatoria State is different. The state is being run as a one-man show and this can’t continue,’’ Abalang said.
She stated that a neutral committee ought to be formed to investigate Futuyo without fear or favor.
“The committee should be formed of the auditor general, the anti-corruption commission, and committees in the parliament,” Abalang suggested.
Meanwhile, John Agany, the chairperson of the specialized committee for information at the parliament, accused Futuyo of violating presidential orders by not paying employees of defunct states.
The lawmaker agreed to constitute a committee comprising select members of the assembly, observers from the anti-corruption commission and audit chamber, to probe the governor.
House Speaker, Rt. Hon. Jemma Nunu Kumba ruled that the committee will be formed within 14 days to conduct the investigation.
The Parliament also prepares to summon the national minister of finance to get more information pertaining payment of salary arrears for employees of the defunct states.
In late August, Richard K. Mulla, an MP on the SPLM ticket representing Mundri County in Western Equatoria State, raised a motion regarding the unpaid salary arrears of civil servants in the defunct states of Amadi, Maridi, and Tambura.
He said the government employees had gone without pay for an astonishing 27 months, spanning from August 1, 2020, to May 31, 2023.