Lomuro, Oyet clash over MPs’ salary increment

Lomuro, Oyet clash over MPs’ salary increment
Parliament, executive clash over pay discrepancies.

The Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Elia Lomuro, and the First Deputy Speaker of the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly, Oyet Nathaniel, differed openly over the decision to review the lawmakers’ salaries.

It all started when Oyet justified the passing of the Emolument Act, which effected the pay increase for the legislators.

He said the lawmakers revised their pay upward after determining that there was enough money to offset it in the 2021–2022 budget.

“We found that South Sudan has resources…they say we get 2,000, 3,000, 5,000, but you find they are very smart in their offices…they use their salaries to transport themselves when earning only SSP5,000 and transport from here to Gudele is over 1,000? Where are these people getting extra money from in all the offices, not the civil servants alone?’’ he posed, arguing that the lifestyle of the officers was not commensurate with the pay.

He argued that the increase was perhaps necessary to avoid wastage and boost the morale of the lawmakers.

He told the leaders that the parliament’s effort to conduct a general review of salaries for all government employees was met with opposition from the executive, both in the budgets for 2021-2022 and 2022-2023.

Oyet said they made a proposal to have the transitional financial arrangements reviewed so that over $700 million would be used to pay such bills, but the requests were turned down.

“That alone can cater even for salaries, let alone what we would get from the sale of oil and non-oil revenue. [It would cater] for services and the development of the country, but do you know where the money is, it is within you, the ministers, the governors, the generals, and the vice presidents and you all know where that money is,’’ Oyet said.

Differences emerge

Lomuro, however, differed with Oyet on the passing of the Emolument Act, saying it was contrary to the law.

Lomuro said an executive that is responsible cannot make increments without advice from the ministry of finance and understanding the resource availability properly, adding that this has hindered salary reviews.

“We have reviewed salaries many times and I don’t know why the deputy speaker refused to understand the figures presented to them in the parliament by the Ministry of Finance.

“Those figures show that we are in a very high deficit; if you go implementing salaries, including schedule 4, the deficits will reach trillions of dollars,” he said.

Lomuro claimed that the South Sudanese government had received nothing from the transitional financial arrangements (TFA) from Khartoum’s oil.

“The budget we are talking about does not contain the money of the transitional financial arrangements,” he said.

“The council of ministers knowing that TFA with Khartoum is ending in March decided that 20,000 barrels (of oil) shall go towards payment roads and 80,000 barrels towards salaries,” said Lomuro.

He said the 20,000 barrels meant for road infrastructure were pegged on the earlier resolutions of the Council of Ministers.

“I’m surprised that the deputy speaker of the whole country is unaware of that critical information.”

The lawmakers increased their salaries from SSP9,000 to SSP 800,000 early this year during the budget review for 2021-2022 and was signed into law by the President.

The two leaders were speaking at the week-long Governors’ Forum that is ongoing in Juba.