Cabinet approves SSP 862 billion budget

Cabinet approves SSP 862 billion budget
The council of ministers approve a budget for 2022-2023 financial year, which is an increment of SSP524 billion from the previous budget.

The Council of Ministers on Friday approved a SSP 862 billion 2022-2023 financial year budget.

The budget was presented to the cabinet by the Minister of Finance and Planning, Agak Achuil.

Addressing the media after the cabinet meeting, the Minister of Information, Michael Makuei, said all the ministries and government institutions would be notified before the budget is finally passed to the parliament.

“This ceiling was the first part of the budget and [it was] SSP862 billion,” noted Makuei.

Out of the total budget, SSP763 billion will come from oil proceeds with SSP9 billion coming from taxes.

“This will be the first budget that will be passed by the cabinet and probably it will be passed by the parliament before the end of the financial year,” Makuei added. 

However, Makuei said the ministry of finance was directed to sit down with the undersecretaries of the institutions concerned to ensure further discussions before it is brought back to the cabinet in the next meeting.

Optimism before debate

South Sudan’s fiscal year begins on May 1 of each year and concludes on June 30 of the following year. Makuei is optimistic that the budget could be passed before June 30, 2022.

The new national budget raised SSP 575 billion from the previous budget for 2021-2022, which was approved by parliament in mid-March 2022.

The cabinet had proposed a budget of SSP 287.04 billion in 2021 for the fiscal year 2021-2022, but it was later amended by parliament to SSP 338 billion, with a surplus of SSP 174 billion to be allocated to spending such as the ministry of public service and human resource development, the South Sudan Agriculture Bank, urban water cooperation, and the Ministry of Peace Building, among others.

Following the parliament’s endorsement of the current budget, Agak said the breakthrough would allow him to correct some of the mistakes made in previous years when the country operated without an official budget.

Mr. Agak said he would now be able to investigate and fix errors, adding that “those who have overspent or who have not spent much but have their money will be scrutinised and held accountable.”

Legislators, on the other hand, have expressed concern about the annual budgetary presentation— which is supposed to take place in May each year— which Agak blamed on the formation of the specialised committees. He said the formation of the committee in January 2022 delayed the budget.

The ministry’s system, according to Agak, is hampered by accumulated arrears such as salaries, regional membership fees, South Sudan’s overseas missions, and others. 

 “The budget has been spent based on presidential order. Every time, time goes by, and the budget is not passed; it is passed through that presidential order to continue with the budget. Currently, we have included this budget in our system. In the previous year, the budget was not passed. So, we have all these difficulties,’’ he said.

“We wanted to work very hard to make sure that the arrears of the salaries are eliminated and that we will make sure that the budget is spent according to what has been agreed on and passed,” he stated.