June 14, 14 (BOR) – The Jonglei state government has submitted a request to the national government for a loan of five million pounds to be paid to former MPs whose terms ended in 2010 as their terminal benefits.
- State minister for information Jodi Jonglei Boyoris speaks to the press in the capital, Bor (ST)
State minister for information Jodi Jonglei Boyoris told Sudan Tribune on Friday in Bor that the request came after 48 MPs, who represented Jonglei’s counties in the state assembly between 2005 and 2010, demanded their benefit payments.
The loan from the national government is to be repaid gradually from the state budget.
Jonglei state suffered a huge budget deficit after its market and other sources of revenues were destroyed during the conflict, which erupted in mid-December last year amid escalating political tensions within the ruling SPLM.
The shortfall meant the government had been unable to pay the former MPs.
LOAN REQUEST CRITICISED
The loan request has sparked concerns among citizens, given that state finances are currently severely strained.
One of the 48 MPs, who spoke on condition of anonymity, has criticised the payment claims initiated by his colleagues, calling it “unrealistic” a time when much of the state’s infrastructure has been completely destroyed.
“If you look at the government offices, almost all of them were destroyed, the state radio is no more, count them all. Where do we get the money to renovate them? This is a challenge to the state. Our claim of five million will be [an] additional burden on the state. I suggest we should hold on till this year ends,” the former MP said.
Local resident Duot Abraham Atem, 30, has questioned whether the formers MPs should be entitled to benefits, claiming they had failed to do enough to quell tribal tensions during their time in office.
- Bor resident Duot Abraham Atem (ST)
“They were supposed to visit their electorates in their constituencies, educate them on the government policies and reconcile the tribes that [were] at war, [but] that was not done. You can’t be paid when you did not do any work,” said Duot.
“At their time there were a lot of raiding and child abductions everywhere in the state. Organised forces were sent to their places to patrol the areas. This cost the state a lot of money. I remember the state paid each soldier 15 pounds per day as hardship allowances, which amounted to millions of pounds,” he added.
Duot said money should be prioritised to repair state infrastructure and government institutions before MPs benefit entitlements.
However, teacher Kwai Samuel, 34, said the MPs had a right to the benefits as it is constitutionally provided.
“Terminal benefits are paid once the term once term comes to an end. Why had it not been paid for such a long time? Maybe they were not serious,” he said.
Jacob Achiek, 28, a resident of Bor town, said the state must find a way to pay the money, expressing fears that leaving the benefits unpaid could lead to further insecurity in the state.
“For instance, if a group of people are not happy with the government that owes them money they may create problems here and there,” he said.
“Another fear is that if the state government is unable to pay this money, the amount will increase because the next group of MPs whose term will end in 2015 will also claim some money. Better to act now [rather] than to keep filling debts,” he added.