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2008/9BudgetSouth Sudan slashes budget for 2009

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Will 2009 Budget be any different from 2008? As the debate over manifestations of corruption is raging on, there is a concern that already a trend have been set:

Expose Corruption

Expose Corruption

Over 80% of the budget allocation are expended on huge salaries and hefty allowance for senior staff and political class  in compensation for poor performance or lack of it.  2009 budget is likely to transfer and expand corruption downwards, from GOSS levels to the states .

Administrator

South Sudan slashes budget for 2009

By Isaac Vuni

December 15, 2008 (JUBA) – The fiscal budget of Southern Sudan for the year 2009 will fall sharply in 2009 as oil revenues decline, officials made clear in a presentation before the regional parliament.

The semi-autonomous region of Southern Sudan shares oil revenues with the north of the country, accounting for most of the regional government’s revenue. The SDG 3.6 billion (about US $1.6 billion) budget is about half of what was spent this year.

Finance and Economic Planning Minister Kuol Athian presented it under the theme “decentralization and raising non-oil revenue.” The proposal should have been presented by October 15 but was delayed by the executive branch.

Oil production problems also aggravate the situation caused by the dropping global oil prices. “In Heglieg, for example, 80% of what’s being pumped out is water. Only 20% is oil,” said Athian, referring to an oil field in central Sudan.

The government aims to reduce oil dependency to 93% of the budget in 2009 by doubling non-oil revenue collections.

Presenting the budget to lawmakers Monday afternoon, the Finance Minister said that the Government of Southern Sudan’s (GOSS) top six priorities are provision of security, construction of roads, improvement of primary health care, basic Education, provision of clean drinking water and promotion of production business.

One lawmaker, Hon. Moi, said the unnecessary delay of budget is intended to hide the truth about malpractices. Therefore, he said, lawmakers will have to question each minister and commissioner on how they spent the approved budget. Yet Hon. Moi lauded the Minister of Information and Broadcasting for having taken positive steps to investigate use of $56,000 for construction of small TV studios that should have cost only $20,000.

The finance minister made clear that GOSS does not know how many drums of crude oil are produced and sold each day. He explained that GOSS authorities are only informed by northerner staff who handle and control the oil fields.

“Since September this year, the Central Bank of Sudan has refused to send our oil revenues to the Bank of Southern Sudan in hard currency, and is instead sending them in Sudanese pounds,” he said. “This means that all foreign exchange earned from Southern Sudan’s share of oil revenues is being retained in Khartoum.”

“If we improve on non-oil revenue collection, surely southerners should be better off in terms of rapid development,” asserted Minister Mawien.

He went further to disclose that the Ministry of Finance has established a cash management committee that meets every morning to review all payments against the approved budget items of each ministry.

He said, surely we in GOSS leadership today need politicians, political parties and southerners to unite and work together towards a democratic southern Sudan like the bordering independent seven countries who are now rapidly developing, and avoid repeating the past mistakes of 21 years.

Mawien appealed to the anti-corruption commission and other commissions to be very diligent in monitoring staff who are entrusted to handle public money and properties on behalf of Southern Sudan citizens.

The Finance Minister reiterated that GOSS will transfer 102 employees to various states to strengthen states’ capacity in the coming year.

Meanwhile the speaker of the assembly, Hon. James Wani Igga, acknowledged the budget presentation despite the delay and referred it to the specialized committee for thorough study, which will bring forward any omission or addition during the second reading scheduled for December 20. Additionally, Speaker Igga strongly advised lawmakers not to rush in passing the 2009 budget just because of the Christmas holiday. He noted that SSLA members will have a prolonged recess because the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the National Congress Party—Sudan’s ruling parties and longtime rivals—are still consulting on when to hold the general election next year.

The acting minister for labour and human resource development, who is also minister for parliamentary affairs, Hon. Martin Elias Lomoro, said GOSS is going to evict government officials staying in hotels at government expense. Other measures will prevent government officials from using government vehicles during odd hours, making the cars parked from 6 pm.

When asked why he did not attend the budget presentation speech, the Director of internal Audit in Central Equatoria Logale David angrily remarked that they are waiting for a democratic opposition government to take over GOSS leadership in the coming general election because current leaders have failed people of southern Sudan at all levels because the so-called approved budget only benefits those working in the Ministry of Finance and Economics planning, who do not send the approved amounts to the states.

The Minister of Finance reminded the audience that Southern Sudan is not producing most needed food items but rather is importing from neighboring Uganda. Hence we need to increase food security in southern Sudan, said the minister.

He stressed that donor pledges were being used for solving problems of Darfur rather than southern Sudan. He reminded the audience that when a donor pays one dollar, GOSS will match the donation.

However, administrators in Yei County have accused some donors of charging southerners an exorbitant amount for constructing community pit latrine at $35 per pit.

Trying to lead by example, GOSS constitutional post holders have decided to cut down their salary by ten percent, putting the money toward development projects. Those affected include everyone from the president to secretary-general and from speaker to executive secretary.

Yet the finance minister assured southerner citizens that GOSS leadership cannot lay off capable officials and let them go fending on streets while they are still productive.

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Written by torit1955

December 17, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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