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Parliament adjourns grilling session over Ministers’ absence

By Philip Buda Ladu

 

A parliamentary session, called to question about five ministers from the economic cluster, on impending hunger in the country, was adjourned.

National Legislative Assembly lawmakers unanimously agreed to adjourn the Tuesday session when two of the potential four summoned ministers were absent.

The Assembly, May 13, 2024, adopted and passed an urgent motion presented by Hon. Gatwech Lam Puoch, in Resolution No. 08/2024. The motion summoned the ministers of the economic cluster to explain or report on the looming hunger in the country.

The summoned ministers included the Minister of Finance and Planning, the Minister of Petroleum, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, the Minister of Trade and Industry, and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management.

Lawmakers also demanded that the officials explain and report on the usage of natural resources such as oil, minerals, and non-oil revenues amidst the worsening economic crisis.

However, the TNLA proceedings were cut short when it was observed that two ministers were abroad, and another minister who was present had not prepared her documents for the session.

Rt. Hon. Speaker Jemma Nunu Kumba acknowledged the presence of the finance minister, Eng. Awow Daniel Chuang, at the beginning of the session after the opening prayers.

She also explained that there was no need for the minister of humanitarian affairs, Albino Akol Atak, who earlier on Monday presented his comprehensive report to the August House on the humanitarian situation in the country and the intervention measures to respond to the looming crises.

“The minister of finance is around, and then the minister of humanitarian affairs, who was here already yesterday (Monday), presented a comprehensive report on the humanitarian situation and their plans to address the issue of humanitarian crises, so he will not be part of this team,” Nunu clarified.

The speaker further stated that both the national minister of trade and industry and the minister of petroleum are not in the country, noting that they are very important ministers for this discussion.

The minister of petroleum, Puot Kang Chol, was supposed to answer questions on his petroleum sector, which is oil production, the status of oil exportation, and the pipeline.

“He would explain to us what is going on in the oil sector, the production, and the exportation, and he is not also here in the country; he is part of the team that went to Port Sudan on the same issue to discuss with the Sudanese authorities about the pipeline and what is going on there,” Nunu informed the house.

The speaker further acknowledged the presence of the minister of agriculture and food security, Josephine Joseph Lagu, but did not adequately prepare.

“We have the minister of agriculture and food security; this one has to tell us what is happening and what they are doing as a ministry in terms of improvement in the agricultural sector, food production, and food security,” she noted.

Nunu stated that Minister Lagu came with her presentation in soft copy, but according to the house regulation, copies of any document that is going to be discussed should be distributed to the members.

“So this document is not available because it is in soft copy, which means she also cannot make this presentation and can’t answer the questions from members,” she continued.

“So since most of the four ministers are not there, is it relevant for us to proceed with this sitting?” the speaker wondered.

Nunu emphasized that the four ministries, including agriculture, trade, petroleum, and finance, are related, and the majority of them are not readily available, only the ministry of finance.

“Therefore, we will have to call them again. That’s why we should just adjourn the sitting so that the minister of agriculture will go and print her document because the focus now should be on agriculture,” Nunu ruled.

“So for these reasons, which you all agree with me, the sitting is adjourned.”

Hon. Oliver Mori Benjamin, Parliament spokesman, affirmed to the media the adjournment, stating, “Out of the four ministers summoned, two of them are outside the country for official duties.

“So, owing to all the above factors, the Rt. Hon. Speaker and the House decided that the Monday sitting on the questioning of ministers has to be adjourned to a later date when all the concerned ministers will be around,” Mori told reporters.

 

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