National, News

Finance minister sweet-talks MPs over salary delays

By Philip Buda Ladu


The national Minister of Finance and Planning inhaled hot air on the floor of parliament on Tuesday as MPs grilled him about the long overdue salaries.

According to the lawmakers, government employees had gone for 8 months without pay.

Eng. Awow Daniel Chuang, who gasped air with difficulty, tried to sweet-talk the lawmakers by assuring them that the salaries were being worked on.

He exclaimed that payments have either started or were getting underway, though sounding unclear in his response to the queries.

“In regard to the salaries people talk about, we are still working on that,” Awow stated.

“We are working on the budget and the salaries, and we have started with the foreign missions, and maybe by next week we are going to move maybe to universities; even universities have started, by the way,” he interjected.

On June 11, 2024, Eng. Awow promised to release the civil servants’ and organized forces’ salaries in a couple of days.

“On the issue of whether in the next few days we are going to pay the salary, first wait and see, and it’ll be very soon,” Awow told MPs during a parliamentary grilling session earlier.

This seemingly “sweet” announcement came after Members of Parliament summoned the Minister to answer questions regarding the eight-month delay in civil servant salaries.

However, almost two weeks after that promise, nothing tangible seems to have materialized to the salary payment.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the finance minister faced the grip of the MPs again, though his purpose of being in the Assembly was different.

He was invited to attend ratification of a road financing agreement, signed between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Republic of South Sudan. On appearing after being absent twice for the same purpose also put him on hot soup.

Hon. Juol Nhomngek, an MP representing Cueibet County, Lakes State, under the SPLM-IO ticket, questioned the finance minister about the whereabouts of salaries, adding that the 2023–2024 fiscal budget is not even implemented.

He further wondered what kind of new fiscal budget they would table, which is behind schedule according to the financial year calendar, which dictates that a new budget should have come into force by June.

“Which budget are we going to table?” Juol asked.

Responding to the question, Eng. Awow reported that public Universities and foreign missions have started receiving their pay, but he did not give further clarification on the number of months being paid.

It remains to be confirmed if indeed the staff at all the aforementioned government institutions have started receiving their pay.

The minister further stated the organized forces will follow the two, saying that is how they are going to manage the situation because they cannot do things at once.

“Whatever we get, we just release, and then we move, so we have started. You will even see that this thing has started, maybe on Monday or Tuesday. I think this is what I can say about the salaries. So be patient; your salaries are coming,” he promised.

After trying to instill hope in the civil servants and organized forces, the finance minister again waved a red flag at the government drying coppers, saying the oil proceeds are facing further shocks.

Mr. Awow emphasized that the government makes estimates of what is projected from oil and non-oil revenues to determine the national budget ceiling, but at times these estimates may not be accurate because of certain circumstances.

“Like now, I think last year there was a budget prepared, but when the problem of war erupted in Sudan, it was not known, so it has disrupted everything,” he cited.

According to Awow, that means the whole budget for 2023–2024 will not be implemented exactly the way it was developed.

“Although it was an estimate, all the calculations that were made in the budget are not going to be met this year, which means you will have a backlog of arrears on everything, not just salaries, because for the last few months most of the oil has not been running, and it was part of what was actually projected last, but in reality, it is now different,” he lamented.





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