South Sudan: Public demands salary increments for civil servants

South Sudan: Department comes out to make this public statement in order to update on the status of the current budget. As many may be aware, the National Legislature or the National Parliament is currently discussing the budget in committees after the second reading, and the budget will be tabled this week for the third reading.

South Sudan: Department comes out to make this public statement in order to update on the status of the current budget. As many may be aware, the National Legislature or the National Parliament is currently discussing the budget in committees after the second reading, and the budget will be tabled this week for the third reading.

However, one of the resolutions, when the budget was passed from the second reading to the specialized committees that will be followed by the third reading, was that the salary structures for civil servants across the country and also for the members of our organized forces must be presented to the Parliament before the third reading so that the increments for salaries for the civil servants and members of the Organized forces are incorporated in the budget or budgeted for before the budget is passed into law.

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Nonetheless, many were caught by surprise when they saw the notice and order of the day from the office of the Clerk of TNLA that the budget will be tabled for the Third Reading this coming Tuesday, September 26, 2022.

As a result, the Ordinary Members of the National Parliament called an urgent meeting to discuss the possible reactions to the latest development and how to deal with the matter decisively.

As the law gives mandate of law-making, oversight role and representation of people, they don’t take issues affecting our people slightly. Thus, during discussions, they surveyed the following issues:

(1) How to support the increment or adjustment of the salaries for members of the organized forces;
(2) How to support the increment or adjustment of the salaries of civil servants; and
(3) The issue of the welfare of MPs which affects their effectiveness in performing their functions in the National Legislature.

In the discussion, the panel agreed that the issue of increment of salaries for both civil servants and members of organized forces is beyond debate as it is a must for the Parliament to demand from the Executive to ensure that they come up with the new salary scales for the two groups or if the Executive fail, the Parliament can increase their salaries based on living wage theory as shall be explained below.

However, they took a lot of time to discuss the welfare of the MPs, which we identified to be one of the major issues that are affecting their effectiveness. They discussed it in detail, guided by the experiences they witnessed during the last session during the second reading of the current budget.

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During that time, three MPs were reached at the Hospital after they collapsed in the hall. They saw this to be a major threat to the Parliament itself and its effectiveness in playing its constitutional role. At the end of the discussion, they resolved as follows:

(1) That they cannot sit to deliberate on a budget unless the salaries of the civil servants and the members of the organized forces are increased in accordance with the living wage. A living wage is a wage sufficient to afford a decent standard of living for the worker and her or his family. This means that an employee must be able to enable to buy food, water, housing, education, health care, transportation, clothing, and other essential needs, including provision for unexpected events such as medical fees and other basic necessities with his or her salary.

(2) All the salary arrears must be paid to the zero level.

(3) Medication for MPs must be paid to enable them to see their doctors as soon as possible to save more from dying as over 50 MPs are already dead, and more are in critical conditions and are enduring under trees in the Parliament as they are not able to see their doctors.

(4) Recess for MPs to be paid so that they go to their constituencies as soon as they have passed the budget. After paying recess money, all MPs must go to their constituencies, and any MP who will not go must have a good reason for him or her not going to their constituencies; otherwise, the failure to go to their constituencies can be treated as a gross breach of the duties of the members of Parliament. After passing the above resolutions, we concluded as follows:

(a) That the fact that the argument that there is no money is not true as South Sudan has more than enough resources and that the mismanagement of resources is not equal to the lack of enough resources;

(b) That for us to drop our demands of salary increments for the members of organized forces and civil servants, medication allowances for MPs, recess and total clearance of the arrears, the Executive must disclose all the information concerning our revenues from the following sources:

(i) oil and mineral revenue (Gold);
(ii) national personal income tax;
(iii) Both National and International NGOs Taxes;
(iv) Grants and donations for South Sudan;
(v) corporate and business profit tax;
(vi) customs duties and import taxes;
(vii) airports and river transport revenue;
(viii) service charges, fees and fines;
(ix) national government enterprises and projects;
(x) value added tax or general sales tax on goods and services;
(xi) excise duties;
(xii) loans and borrowing from the Bank of South Sudan and the public;
(xiii) grants-in-aid and foreign financial assistance;
(xiv) fees from nationality, passports, immigration and visas; and
(xv) royalties;

(c) They also noted that the foregoing demands have their basis in Article 178 (2) of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011, as amended read together with section 15 (3) of the Public Financial Management and Accountability Act, 2011, which provides that all the revenue and expenditure of each level of government shall be on-budget operations and made public as the case may be.

Thus, they demand that all revenues, their sources and how much is collected from each source must be on the current budget and made public.

(d) The above provisions of the law are in line with Article 32 of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011, as amended. This Article provides that every citizen has the right of access to official information and records, including electronic records in possession of any level of government or any organ or agency thereof, except where the release of such information is likely to prejudice public security or the right to privacy of any other person.

(e) We further noted in the conclusion that it is in the interest of the General Public and citizens that there is a need to reflect our revenues and their sources on the budget and must be made public.

(f) We further observed that as the law requires, it is not prejudicial to public security to disclose the total revenues South Sudan collected from each source listed above.

(g) We also noted in conclusion that ordinary Members of Parliament must reject the current budget unless the conditions in (1) to (4) above are met, or alternatively, the Minister of Finance and Planning must make an honest presentation of all the government accounts, which must reflect the sources in (b) above.

(h) If the Minister of Finance and Planning does not accept our two alternative demands, the budget must be thrown out, and all the ordinary Members of Parliament call the media to inform the general public of their decision to reject the budget.