23rd September 2023
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Lawmaker criticizes oil-reliant 2023-2024 budget

Author: Obaj Okuj | Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Honorable Paul Baba Ezibon speaks to reporters after a parliament session on budget reading. | Photo: Obaj Okuj/Eye Radio

A member of parliament has criticized the Minister of Finance and Planning for presenting what he termed as an “envelope budget” adding that it was designed to constrain the inputs of lawmakers in the budgeting process.

Paul Baba Ezibon made the remarks after Minister Dier Tong Ngor tabled the two-trillion-pound draft budget for the fiscal year 2023-2024.

According to the SPLM-IO lawmaker, the budget does not align with the country’s objectives to shift away from dependency on oil revenue.

He argued that they were hoping for a shift towards other sectors that would provide more employment opportunities – an idea that he said was not touched during the first reading.

MP Baba stated that the allocation of funds in the fiscal policy heavily favors recurrent expenditures, and neglecting developmental projects.

“I don’t see anything which is new in this budget, we are just talking about how we will eat the money for the next year to come. So, here I cannot celebrate instead I am disappointed,” Ezibon told reporters shortly after the first reading.

“Today, you see how the prices skyrocket in the market we are not talking about it, how are we going to meet it? How are we going to reduce the prices?”

According to the total expenditure proposal, 455 billion South Sudanese Pounds go for wages and salaries.

The budget earmarked 222 billion and 773 million pounds for goods and services

While 541 billion, 732 Million, and 558 thousand pounds are expected to cater for capital expenditure.

The draft budget also allots 1.6 billion to oher expenditures, while 50 billion pounds to go to peace implementation, 38 billion for contingency and 48 billion pounds as Constituency Development Funds.

Meanwhile, 151 billion pounds have been allocated to states and administrative areas, and 32 billion as salart arrears for foreign missions.

Speaking to journalists, MP Baba said the budget only favors those working in government at the expense of the common citizens at the grassroots.

“This (budget) is not at the level of everyone. Everyone is really suffering to meet their need in the skyrocketing prices, so the government is silent about it.”

The lawmaker went on to state that the budget was dictated to the national parliament by the executive, giving the August House limited room to provide feedback.

“Give us the opportunity as parliamentarians to see what we need to do in this nation in general terms if we come to three trillion that’s fine.”

“We can ask ourselves, if we support agriculture, can it increase our tax bases because we are getting less money because our contribution to small and medium enterprises is limited they are struggling on their own and what if we support them?”

“What will they do? They will give us more boost in non-oil revenue that’s what we are talking about. Why are they limiting us only to issues which will not give us any feedback soon?”



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