Auditor Wondu cries for funding in new budget

Auditor Wondu cries for funding in new budget
Auditor Genral Steven Wondu. [Photo: Sheila Ponnie, City Review]

The National Audit Chamber (NAC) has criticised its budgetary allocation in the proposed SSP 1.3 trillion budget for the fiscal year 2022/2023. The chamber argues the SSP2.3 billion allocated for the accountability sector is just not sufficient. 

On Wednesday, [former] Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Agak Achuil Lual, presented to the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly (RTNLA) the national budget for the fiscal year 2022/2023.

Achuil was fired from his position last night.

In response to the proposed budget for 2022–2023, Steven Wondu, the South Sudan Auditor General, expressed dissatisfaction over the allocated budget.

He said the accountability sector was underfunded and needed much more attention. 

“We are allocated very little money.” Even the little money allocated is normally not disbursed to us, so we suffer severely,” Amb.Wondu lamented. 

“We are restricted from doing our work.” “In our NAC Act, we suggested that from that, the NAC should be funded through the consolidative funds so that it doesn’t rely on the ministry of finance, which is the main target of the institution,” he added.

He said that the audit’s primary focus is the ministry of finance and that it would be impossible for NAC to achieve its goal of credible outcomes if it relied on target organisations for funding due to conflict of interest. 

Ambassador Wondu reiterated that the NAC’s independence is what gives it credibility and that it can only provide credit reports if it has established its own human resource policy, including its funding source. 

“Similarly, like everyone else in the world, NAC should be permitted to have its own human resource policy to highly develop its human resources without referencing to, depending on, or being submissive to the executives through the ministry of public services.”

He emphasised the importance of the public accountability sectors as crucial areas that shouldn’t be compromised if the government is to carry out its legal obligations. 

According to Martin Odwar Lanuha, Deputy Chairperson of the Specialised Committee of Public Accounts in the RTNLA, the most challenging and disheartening thing for the nation, is having a lot of money in the country that does not flow to the correct services for people.

 “I think we need to give money to this institution so that it works to bring the corrupt officials to book.” It is very upsetting and disappointing to just have 2 per cent of the total budget of the country allocated for the accountability sector,” he said.

He said the government’s earnings from oil and other sources should be used to fund the construction of public facilities such as hospitals, schools, and roads as well as other essential services for its citizens. 

Martin said the problems facing the country have turned things in the wrong direction. 

Allocations

In the budget, the public administration sector was allocated SSP 117.3 billion, followed by the education sector, which was allocated SSP 107.8 billion, and the security sector was also allocated a huge share of SSP 75.3 billion

The economic functions sector was allocated SSP 73.1 billion and the natural resources sector was allocated SSP 67.3 billion, with SSP41.6 billion for states/administrative areas and SSP 67.1 billion as salary arrears for foreign missions.

Other sectors, like the health sector, were allocated 33.7 billion, the infrastructure sector was allocated SSP 12.5 billion, and the rule of law sector was allocated SSP 31.7 billion.

The social and humanitarian affairs sector was allocated 6.1 billion and only the accountability sector was allocated 2.3 billion, the only sector allocated the least budget.

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