16th July 2024
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R-TNLA protests expired fiscal budget closure

Author: Obaj Okuj | Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2024

National Parliament|Photo by Obaj Okuj|04-06-2024

The Minister of Finance says he is awaiting from President Salva Kiir on the way forward after the lawmakers rejected the institutions’ decision to close the budget year 2023-2024 before a new one is enacted.

Engineer Awow was responding to the lawmakers who rejected the ministry’s decision to close the national financial accounts, and suspended payments to spending agencies.

According to the parliamentarians, it’s only the President who has the authority to decide whether to continue with the current budget or to close it.

Hon. Permino Awerial who is the August house’s Deputy Speaker said: “I think the whole thing is very clear,  in June the accounts are closed and in July they are opened, and that has to be done through the President.

“The President is the one to issue the opening of the account such that the government continues. So, it is very clear from the minister so why should people debate on that issue,” he added.

Former Chairperson of the R-TNLA’s Information Committee also criticized the Finance Ministry for unilaterally announcing the closure the fiscal book.

“We have a letter here from the office of the Ministry of Finance and the Undersecretary of Finance confirming this. As of now, the status of the national budget is unclear.

“What is the fate of this year’s budget, and how will we continue with expenditures? Will government offices close down? What do we do, given that the previous budget has been exhausted and the new national budget has not yet been tabled?

Meanwhile, lawmaker Victor Mugu challenged Minister Awow to revisit the constitution saying: You [minister] don’t close the budget or the fiscal year in July,  you close it in June, and now it is the time to open it.

“However, you should read the constitution, specifically sections 87 and 88 which clearly outline when you are to close the budget and when you are to open it. This is the clarification,” he added.

In response, Minister Awow indicated that he had written to the President concerning the continuation of the current budget until another budget is submitted.

According to him, a proposed budget was passed by the economic cluster but has not been presented to the cabinet for deliberation.

He said this while presenting the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Regulations Act to the parliament on Tuesday.

“The closure of the financial year happens automatically because when the financial year closes all these books must be closed and then we also seek  for how to run with exemptions.

“We have already resolved that. So I think the budget will be reopened before this one. I think maybe I was not clear enough about what I said.

“We are only seeking the announcement because I have already sought the approval from His Excellency the President s so it’s going to be announced. So, there is no issue.”

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Parliament Jemma Nunu Kumba assured the lawmakers that she will consult with the President on the issue of budget.

Rt. Hon. Kumba stated the consultation is likely to happened in the course of this week.

“This consultation will be made; we are going to do it together with the issue of the recess. So, we are going to consult with the President and other issues of recess and the budget.”

 South Sudan’s annual budget closes on June 30 each year which is also in line with that of East Africa member states.

The delay to enact 2024-205 fiscal budget means South Sudan is lagging behind its constitutional calendar and that of the bloc’s.

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