Finance and Economic Planning Minister Kosti Manibe. [Gurtong | File]
By Teddy Chenya
JUBA, 26 October 2012 [Gurtong] - A statement released by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Kosti Manibe says that any State authority that cuts the salaries and wages of its workers is not implementing the policy of the National Government.
The minister says that the cuts have nothing to do with the austerity measures undertaken by the National Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning as the states have competence to determine their salary and staffing levels.
The minister clarified that during the current period of austerity, the National Government policy is to reduce housing allowances by 50 per cent but the state civil servants do not receive housing allowances; hence even if a state opts to follow the National Government policy there could not be any reduction since there is no housing allowance to deduct.
He says that the conditional salary transfers to the states were not reduced except for the elimination of job specific allowances.
He further reveals that the block grants to states were reduced by 25 per cent which was significantly less than the reduction in the National Government budget of 35 per cent and that the states are free to use their block grants in the way they want.
In September, the South Sudan Fiscal, Financial Allocation and Monitoring Commission (FFAMCOM) Chairperson Gabriel Mathiang said that the national parliament had debated and endorsed the austerity budget submitted by the Council of Ministers to have a 50 per cent cut on housing allowances of all employees.
The commission is mandated to ensure equitable distribution of resources by the government.
Several protests were launched in some states by organised forces demanding for explanations on the allowance cuts.
Protests were witnessed in Western Bahr el Ghazal and Lakes states leading to injury of some employees with the state authorities pushing the blame to the national government.
The commission had accused some politicians of misinforming employees about the cuts rather than clarifying as to how the cuts were made.
South Sudan after shutting down her oil wells early this year resorted to operating on austerity measures in a bid to utilise its resources cost effectively.
Oil revenues used to contribute to over 90 per cent of the government’s annual budget.
Manibe indicated last month that the country will continue operating under austerity measures even if Juba and Khartoum strike a deal on the post secession issues.
The two countries signed a deal last month and the oil producing companied have been ordered to resume production with the first consignment expected at the end of this year.