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ACCOUNTABILITY Finance Bill up for 3rd reading

By Bida Elly David

 

Transitional National Legislative Assembly on Monday passed the Public Finance, Management and Accountability Act 2011 amended 2024 to the third reading.

The bill outlines regulations for managing public finances and ensuring their accountability to serve national interests.

During the presentation on Monday, Gathkouth Bichiok, the chairperson of the specialized committee for finance and economic planning, explained that the bill aims to ensure prudence, transparency, accountability, and effective management of national wealth and resources.

He said the amendment in Section 15-58 of the bill provided a limit on the amount of public money to be spent on the purpose for which it is appropriated.

It further provides conditions for the supplementary appropriation bill and the reallocation of the budgets.

The amended bill, according to Section 35-48, provides for negotiation of any borrowings between the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of South Sudan.

“A state government and administrative areas may borrow money with the approval of the state assembly and administrative areas council in consultation with the national government,” Bichiok explained.

The committee observed in section 43, sub-section (1), that the borrowing limit was stipulated at 50% of the total gross domestic product, saying it was too high for the country.

The same section also provides for the terms and conditions of government borrowing, including the requirements for approval by the assembly and provisions from the act.

Furthermore, sections 49–55 of the bill provide for public availability of information and clear lines of reporting and disclosure of data.

The committee chair said the same section obligates the auditor general to audit the petroleum sector within six months of the transitional period.

As part of the amendment, a new section was added to establish the assembly budget office in the office of the clerk and the responsibilities of the budget office.

“Section 56-59 provides for the auditor general to review and audit the transfers of the two per cent (2%) and three percent (3%) oil proceeds allocations to producing states, administrative areas, and communities,” the committee report reads.

Additionally, Section 60-78 of the amended bill provides for the establishment of the Institute of Certified Public Accounts of South Sudan and its functions.

Mr. Bichiok noted that the initial bill did not add the three administrative areas, respectively, and recommended inclusion.

Reactions

Joseph Justine Marona, a lawmaker representing Maridi Geographical Constituency, said the bill is one of the crucial documents that paves the way for accountability and transparency in the use of public resources.

“This bill will help this country in order to pave the way for accountability of our resources. Enacting this bill should be fast and assented to by the president,’’ he said.

Marona said the bill will give South Sudan a good position before international partners such as the Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) when it comes to borrowing.

“They will be happy that we have a law that governs our revenues and expenditures,” he noted.

He, however, discouraged the 50% allocation of loans to states and other government units, saying it was higher than the national income.

Goch Makuach, a lawmaker representing Twic County of Warrap under SPLM, applauded the committee for the successful scrutiny of the bill.

He noted that the enactment of the act will promote prudence in resource management across the country, and issues of pilferage and other sorts of corruption will be mitigated.

“There are so many problems in South Sudan with the management of resources; there has not been accountability; fast-tracking this bill will get a remedy to this problem,” he emphasized.

Rt. Hon. speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba, during the deliberations, appreciated the finance committee and confirmed the passing of the bill to its third reading stage with all amendments.

 

 

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