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STAND OFF, No business in Parliament

Members of Parliament walk out after the sitting was adjourned (Photo: Kidega Livingstone)

By Jale Richard

There was no parliamentary sitting yesterday following last Thursday’s ’s standoff between Members of Parliament and the Finance Minister over the 2019/2020 fiscal year budget.

Last Thursday, Members of Parliament blocked Finance Minister Salvatore Garang Mabiordit from reading the 2019/2020 fiscal year budget demanding payment of workers’ salaries. The MPs demanded the Finance Minister to pay civil servants, some of whom have gone for six months without pay.

Following the disruption, Speaker Anthony Lino Makana adjourned the sitting, saying he would call them again for the budget reading. Many expected the MPs to continue with the adjourned siting by Monday. However there was no explanation as to why it did not take place.

The chairperson of the Specialized Committee on Information and Communication, Paul Yoane Bonju could not comment on why there was no business in the Parliament.

“I have no comment to say about it, I am not saying there is going to be no sitting tomorrow, but I am saying no comment for time being,” Bonju said when asked whether there will be a parliamentary sitting on Tuesday (today) for the Finance Minister to table the delayed budget.

He said some of the ruling party’s members were attending a caucus meeting called by the SPLM acting chief whip Ngong Deng Gum.

Bonju however denied links of the caucus meetings with last week’s disagreement in the parliament.

“I don’t think there is a connection between what is happening here today with the sitting last Thursday. The two are totally different. The meetings are progressing normally,” Bonju added.

He said the caucus meetings were meant to refine their issues to form part of the strategic plan of the SPLM party.

Last Friday after the Council of Ministers’ meeting, government spokesperson Michael Makuei Lueth criticized some of the MPs for their behavior that led to disruption of the Finance Minister’s scheduled tabling of the budget.

Makuei said the Finance Minister should have been allowed to explain how he will pay the civil servants.

“The budget will be presented and the Minister of Finance should be given the opportunity to respond and give his programs for payment of these arrears,” he said.

“It seems that there are other issues involved, because people decided to go beyond that question. This is a situation which is not required,” Michael Makuei added.

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