National, News

MPs pass budget amid complaints of arrears

By William Madouk


Central Equatoria State Transitional Legislative Assembly passed the 2023–2024 fiscal year supplementary budget worth SSP 11.4 billion despite unpaid six-month salary arrears and allowances owed to lawmakers.

With the approval of the SSP 11,796,385,691 supplementary budget by MPs yesterday, this now brings the total state resource envelope for fiscal year 2023–24 to SSP 33,813,674,726.

This was the third budget for FY 2023–24 meant to ‘consolidate peace and security’ and enable the state to deliver services to citizens.

Deputy speaker, Dr. Salaam Alhaj Abdallah, who presided over the sitting, said, “The motion of adoption is raised and seconded with no contrary motion, which means the budget is passed in totality.”

Dr. Abdallah also directed the standing specialised committee on economics to swiftly send the passed budget to the governor for assent for immediate implementation, saying the previously passed budget is almost finished.

While presenting the budget, the deputy chairperson of the specialized committee for economics, Mr. Lino Lado Cirilo, said the budget was overshadowed by the national grant of SSP 24.95 (73.9%) and state revenue of SSP 8.8 (26.1%).

According to Cirilo, SSP 20.614 billion (60.1%) was earmarked for wages and salaries that cover the largest share, followed by the use of goods and services, SSP 7.353 billion (21.7%), and capital expenditure, SSP 5.221 billion (15.4%).

However, acting opposition chief whip Geri Scopas Emma stated that although the budget was passed with an increment of wages and salaries to 60.1 percent, MPs spent six months without pay.

“I don’t think there is going to be any improvement in anything because it shall still remain the same parliament that is here, which will continue mentioning their challenges, and it shall still remain the same executive,” said Emma.

“Right now, in this budget, the salaries have gone to 60, or 49%. But we are more than six months without salaries,” he added.

The opposition chief whip added that they just pass the budget because, by law, the state needs it to function and deliver services.

“Where is our own state revenue that we generated? The state revenue is not seen, and here we are complaining, waiting for salaries from the national government,” he slammed.

Another lawmaker said, “We took an oath to come and serve the nation and our people, and that’s why today you see the members have surfaced.”

“Without anything, without money for transport! People are suffering, but they have committed themselves that today this is a budget, which is a government tool,” he added.

Furthermore, another MP stated that by passing the budget, it would be a clear indication that, despite MPs demands, the interests of the nation must outweigh them.

“The executive will have to follow the recommendations and will have to follow rules and regulations. I beg the executive, kindly, use the Constitution; use it kindly for systematic approach, for systematic follow-up,” she said.

On October 23, 2023, the lawmakers at the Central Equatoria State Transitional Legislative Assembly vowed not to debate the draft budget for fiscal year 2023-2024 unless their salary arrears and unpaid portion of their allowances were paid.

Speaker Peter Wani Kulang said he received the draft budget for 2023–2024 from the minister of finance but added that he will not table it before the house until their demands are met.

Rt. Hon. Speaker Kulang added that he met Governor Emmanuel Adil on a similar issue of the MPs’ remunerations.


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