By Charles K Mark
Civil Society activists have called for a review of the national budget for 2023-2024, stating that it lacks priority and neglects resources envelopes.
In a comprehensive budget analysis report conducted by the Institute of Social Policy and Research and released last week, the activists said there is minimal attention given to financing the private sector as mandated by the R-ACRSS.
The Analysist report called for a shift from consumption mentality to interactive participation and inclusive responsibility-sharing.
“Since 2005, the budget has been an exercise of a cash call with an unacceptable level of budgeting with an intended deficit. South Sudan’s future budget should be bottom-up by moving away from such an elusive shopping list addressing entitlements and privileges among government officials” the report partly read.
The report called for a bottom-up budget based on socio-economic realism and a well-defined Symbiotic Fiscal Federalism.
It suggests that the Transitional National Legislative Assembly enact a Health Insurance Policy to reduce financial uncertainty and make accidental loss manageable for public officials.
“Health Insurance Policy reduces financial uncertainty and makes accidental loss manageable for public officials. It will also reduce the cost of treatment abroad,” the report stated.
The report also recommends the Ministry of Finance and Planning to transform its Budget Control Office into an independent budget control planning commission to oversee the transfer of funds and expenditures from spending agencies.
“The Transitional National Legislative Assembly to study and remove the allocation of oil funds for roads since road funds are already budgeted for in the national financial year every year.”
The report calls for more local government transfers to achieve development and service delivery at the local levels, as counties and cities are key engines for service delivery.
It also suggests that the Ministry of Finance and Planning should transfer funds directly to independent commissions to avoid delays and corruption.
As recommended by the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, the report also calls for institutions or agencies to conduct expenditure analysis and produce reports for public consumption.
“The government and the Ministry of Finance should only borrow funds from international institutions for investments to improve the economy and boost growth rather than borrow for salaries.”
The report also called for strengthening the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority to conduct its work and avoid single-sourcing procurement practices.
As the national budget analysis observed, only Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria States have developed budgets. The three Administrative Areas (Pibor, Abyei, and Ruweng) and the other seven states do not operate on developed budgets.
It called for the suspension of future funds transfers to these states and administrative areas until they develop their budgets.
The report also called for governors to stop pocketing and delaying education funds to improve quality service delivery.
The report recommended more funds for the National Bureau of Statistics and Anti-Corruption Commission to conduct a credible, balanced and accurate national population census and constituency demarcation.
Civil society also advocates for government institutions to produce quarterly finance reports and share information publicly for citizens’ informed decision-making.