17 - 08
By Sam Abuya
The South Sudan parliament has suspended a $451 million budget debate after questions emerged on how the country’s government spent money in the past financial year.
On Monday, members of parliament refused to debate further the 2017/18 budget after several ministers failed to show up during the debate and, as such, they couldn’t be questioned. The speaker of the country’s national assembly Anthony Lino Makana directed all ministers to show up in the next session.
Last month, the national assembly’s committee on finance requested to add $141 million to the budget proposal which had been presented to parliament by the Finance Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau.
During the debate, questions arose including MPs wanting to know why some of the state agencies were given thousands of pounds in spite of them not performing well or as expected. It also emerged that some of the agencies in question had not submitted their financial reports as required.
For instance, Maridi’s state Mary Nawai turned her spotlight on the Ministry of Electricity and Dams, which, according to reports, paid its wages budget by more than 49%.
“What were the activities that they used the budget for? We have not seen any sign in this country of electricity. What people are using are generators in their houses and solar?” Nawai asked. “We have not seen any construction going on or any dam. Why do we need to add money for the Ministry of Electricity?” She added.
According to economic analysts, government institutions in South Sudan must discipline themselves and channel the national budgetary allocations to their intended purposes. The experts are of the opinion that the country should operate one treasury account system from which the finance ministry will control the cash flow. As it stands, government agencies are operating several bank accounts.
Since the start of civil war in South Sudan in 2013, oil production, the country’s main source of income, plunged and has not fully recovered.
The civil war has seen many people displaced following the prolonged clashes between the two warring sides of the incumbent President Salva Kiir and the rebels’ leader Riek Machar.