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S. Sudanese MPs decry descrepancies in ministry’s spending

August 31, 2015 (JUBA) – South Sudanese lawmakers have warned the country’s finance and economic planning ministry against spending irregularities after it emerged that some government departments were overpaid and others were deprived of funds.

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South Sudanese MPs stand during a parliamentary session in Juba on 31 August 2011 (AFP)

In a heated parliamentary debate that ensured during the second reading for 2015/2016 fiscal year budget on Monday, the MPs said the security sectors of government spent more than it was budgeted for and money had to be cut from the service delivery ministries.

“There is a general disparity in the release of funds by the ministry of finance,” said the parliamentary finance chairperson, Goc Makuac.

“Others [ministries] overspent [and] the committee recommended equitable release of funds to all spending agencies monthly,” he added.

According to the parliamentary findings, the ministry of defense spent 3.7bn South Sudanese Pound (SSP), instead of the approved 3.28bn. The national security ministry in the office of the president took SSP 229m, surpassing the approved SSP 207m.

In sharp contrast to the release of funds for security purposes, the ministry of finance reduced the approved budget for the ministry of health, releasing just SSP 172m of the approved SSP 357m. The roads ministry, on the other hand, got SSP 75m of the SSP 107m, which was approved by the national assembly in the appropriation Act 2014/15.

Onyoti Adigo, leader of the minority in parliament, said the discrepancies violate country’s financial laws and was a breach of parliamentary approvals of budgetary allocations to the ministries.

“We call for auditing of all the [government spending] agencies which overspent and accountability must be made,” said Adigo.

“This [overspending and under spending] is a breach of the appropriate Act 2014/2015 and public finance management accountability Act, 2011,” he added in reference to anti-graft laws requiring the finance ministry to operate within approved budgets.

The 2015/2016 fiscal year budget for South Sudan started on 01 July. This year’s budget is due for its third and fourth reading this week.

It however remains unclear if the new budget will be approved before the formation of the Transitional Government National Unity (TGNU) in accordance to the IGAD-led peace deal signed by President Salva Kiir and the armed opposition leader, Riek Machar.