By Ngor Arol Garang
APRIL 2, 2011 (WAU) – Majok Bol Kur, Minister of Finance in southern state of Warrap announced Saturday that the state parliament had unanimously passed a 2011 budget amounting to 147.6 million Sudanese Pounds (SDG) on Friday April 1.
The $52.5 million budget covers three main areas of capital, salaries and operation cost for the state government. This comes days after the Kuajok based State Legislative Assembly, saw heated debate over the priorities and details of the new budget and deliberations on the 2010 emolument act of the government of South Sudan.
The emolument act cut salaries for ordinary members of parliament by 50 SDG a month ($17), while raising salaries for the heads of specialized committees in the assembly from 7,000 SDG to 8,450 SDG each.
“The new budget of Warrap State for 2011 has been passed. It was unanimously passed yesterday on Friday 1 of April 2011, in the state Legislative Assembly in the Afternoon. It is a twelve months budget covering 1st of January 2011 to December 31st 2011,” said minister of finance Majok Bol Kur, in an interview with Sudan Tribune from Kuajok, capital of Warrap State.
Kur said his ministry will adopt the toughest financial procedures to ensure better management of the resources.
“You know Warrap state has a lot of competing priorities. Our state started from scratch. We had no existing facilities. Our government started from zero, so, in this budget, the ministry of finance will adopt toughest financial procedures to ensure better management of the resources for the benefit of our people of Warrap State,” said minister Kur.
South Sudan is still recovering from decades of civil war. In July the South will become independent as part of a 2005 peace deal.
“All spending sectors will have to comply with financial procedures and will now be required to give monthly reports of their expenditures to the ministry,” he said.
Minister Kur said Warrap State receives 139.8 million Sudanese Pounds from the government of South Sudan’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning as block grant and it is this budget which they added with collections from the local revenues to bring 147.6 million Sudanese Pounds as State budget.
“We have a lot of challenges and competing priorities which cannot be covered by the budget we receive from the government of South Sudan’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. What we receive is not enough to cover our priorities. I do not know the criteria used to determined allocation of funds to the state because the last census was not accepted. We have a lot of competing priorities and we receive only 139.8 million Sudanese Pounds from the government of South Sudan,” said minister Kur,
He further explained that some of their priorities include security, development of physical infrastructure, provision of basic services, which he said covers delivering better health services in the form of recruiting and training medical personnel as well as building primary health care units and centers.
The official also said the government needs to build more schools and recruiting qualified teachers as way to take town people in the rural areas through improved system of education.
“We have a lot to do to [for] our people but our budget does not cover all these. One of our pressing priorities now is security and integration of internally displaced persons who were repatriated to the state from Khartoum and in other northern states. We are also prioritizing development of physical infrastructure and food production and [Agricultural] livelihoods (Agriculture),” he said.
The senior member of the state government said they have written a proposal seeking financial assistances to donors because they have a lot of developmental projects without resources.
“As I said earlier, we have a lot of competing priorities especially developmental projects without resources to implement them; we have now written a proposal seeking financial support to donors for these projects,” said Kur.
Ariec Mayar Ariec, a member of the South Sudan’s ruling Party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), in Warrap State Legislative Assembly who represents geographical number 15, in Kuac South, said that the bill on ha passed on Friday.
“Yes, the budget of 147 million Sudanese Pounds was passed yesterday. There were no differences. It was unanimously endorsed and passed by members of the State Legislative Assembly,” said Ariec.
Ariec was one of the state MPs who sought the impeachment of the state ministry of finance after allegations of financial scandal. However, he subsequently failed to present relevant documents during the parliamentary hearing on the 2010 budget evaluation report.
He said the minister in his report of the 2011 budget said will raise 3.2 million Sudanese Pounds from local revenues.
“During parliamentary discussions on this budget, the minister of finance in his report indicated that the ministry will have raised 3.2 million Sudanese Pounds at the end of this financial year,” said Ariec.
Deng Mayom, another member of the state parliament said the budget was passed and that this new budget will have to be properly used to the benefit of the people of Warrap State.
“The people of Warrap State fought the war without reservations and have shown it clearly again during referendum in which they overwhelmingly voted for secession of south Sudan from the north. Our people voted 99.6%. It was one of the biggest percentages because they knew they were voting for freedom, equality, justice and democracy.”
“They have voted for the fulfillment of the ideals of our struggle. Their votes, he said, just like votes from other South Sudanese, demonstrate that the people of south Sudan have chosen the path of permanent peace, human dignity and nationhood.”
“Therefore, as members of the SPLM in the parliament, we have to ensure our people are provided with basic services as a response to fulfillment of their wishes in form of service deliveries,” said Mayom.
He said the people of Warrap in particular and people of south at large have ended one struggle and must now start another, that of building a new nation.
“We have ended the first war both with human lives and votes. We have started with another war on development,” said Mayom.
As SPLM members in the parliament, he said, “we have accepted that we must work together with other organs of the government to consolidate our institutions and begin to play a major role in the area of development as equal members of the same government. “
“We must protect this new nation to ensure that we do not end up in the same situation which we fought against. Never again shall the people of south Sudan be oppressed by anybody. Development is only one of our remaining challenges and we must fight it all of us whether in the parliament or elsewhere in the government or with private sector,” said Mayom.