South Africa: Unity State Assembly Pressures Ministry of Finance to Pay Civil Servants Full Salary

Bentiu — The Unity state ministry of finance is under pressure from state parliamentarians after ordering the reduction of civil servants pay by 25 percent.

In July the state council of ministers led by the ministry of finance's deputy governor, Michael Chiengjiek Geay, implemented a pay reduction scheme as part of wider austerity measures.

This was immediately amended without passing the decision to the state legislatures who were on recess. The reduction affected both constitutional post holders and state employees.

On Saturday and Sunday legislatures summoned the minister of finance, Kosti Manibe Ngai, demanding an explanation for the cuts. Ngai claimed the salaries suffered due to austerity measures which were introduced after the shutdown of oil production in January. Parliamentarians called for the ministry of finance to reimburse the civil servants.

Ngai claimed the Juba government gave the state only 40 percent of the anticipated budget; hence the cuts.

Simon Maguek Gai, speaker of the Unity state legislative assembly, said there is a need for the ministry of finance to further justify the cuts.

Gai added that the state earns income through revenues and that the ministry of finance has misused its portion. He claimed the ministry has acted without the requisite legislative backing.

Gai said the improper channeling of resources by the state ministry of finance has contributed to the embezzlement of public funds.

"There are some people that are practicing corruption [...], this cannot be substantiated by evidence because these are individuals. They may corrupt people in the ministry of finance but there is no substantial evidence," said Gai.

The ministry of finance lost momentum during the debate when the legislators called upon the state governor, Taban Deng, to write a letter to the assembly stating that the pay reduction will be refunded by the state government. This proposal was rejected by the legislature on Sunday.

Sources requesting anonymity in the state capital, Benitu, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that the ministry of finance and the governor had done a secret deal, investing state funds in private matters. This claim has not been substantiated.

In July Deng instructed government officials from scales one too five to publicly report their assets in declaration forms. This happened in the wake of a incident in which 75 government officials were called to write to the South Sudan president, Salva Kiir, as they were suspected of embezzling a total of US$4 billion over the past seven years. Deng welcomed Kiir's announcement. Unity state officials were amongst those suspected of involvement in the scandal.

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