Auditor’s Report Divides Parliament

Several parliamentarians were opposed to the ministers’ reaction on defending the judiciary and vowed to grill the judiciary. [Gurtong | File]

The National Auditor General had in previous months presented to the SSNA its audited Financial Report of the years 2007 and 2008. The report was then referred to the PAC for scrutiny and critical study to enable the parliament comes out with appropriate recommendations.

Hon. Kom Kom Geng, the PAC Chairperson after presenting the report in the House immediately a hot debate arose.

The report has implicated the Judiciary, one arm of the government-law executer of planting corruption as several loopholes were being discovered in the report by the PAC.

It has implicated the judiciary of bridging the law.

It said according to the Financial Year of 2007 the Judiciary did not maintain an expenditure ledge for budget control purposes. Thus there was a possibility that the money was moved from one budget item to another without authority from the Ministry of Finance.

The report also indicated that the judiciary did not have Nominal Roll which should be used as a basis for payment of employees. Its absence made it difficult to verify the payroll properly. In an example the Auditor General had actually found out that, salaries of then Sudan Pounds (SDG) 18,043,564 paid, audit was not provided with payrolls for SDG 2,283,328 that represented about 13% of what was spent on salaries.

It also revealed that, in the Financial Year 2007 operating expenditure amounting to SDG 97,051 did not have appropriate documentation. Test audit also indicated that SDG 23,524 and SDG 7,775 were paid for airtime and incentive allowances respectively and were not included in the then Judiciary budget and permission for budget transfer was not obtained from the Ministry of Finance.

Among several revelations, above are key examples that the PAC has implicated the judiciary. In an attempt to have its own investigations, the PAC said the judiciary had declined to appear before the committee when summoned, stating they are independent and therefore not accountable to any one on the public resources appropriated for their work despite explanation by the PAC that, the independency of the judiciary is limited to its work in the adjudication of justice in the country.

A controversial response by the SSNA Committee of Justice and Legal Affairs in the Parliament that it did not share the report with the PAC during its scrutiny before it was tabled to the House yesterday contradicted proceedings in the House and brought confusion.

The controversial response was followed by defensive move by the Minister of Justice Hon. John Luk Jok that the Judiciary is not liable for auditing by the parliament. John Luk stormed for nearly fifteen minutes reading quoting several articles from the South Sudan ACC Act 2009 and the Country’s penal code 2008 in defense of the PAC/SSNA approach to deal with the parliament.

He was in denial that, the act revealed in the report that the judiciary is in contempt in accordance with the Regulation 126(4) of the Conduct of Business Regulations, 2011 of the National Legislative Assembly.

However, John Luk’s defense according to parliamentarian does not hold water but only defined by one of the MPs. Hon. Riek T from Upper Nile State as “obstruction to transparency and covering up of corruption.”

Compromising the Law
The Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, 2011 article 82 subsection (1) according to Hon. James Kok declares the Minister’s defense valueless. It states that, the National Legislative Assembly or any of its committees may summon any public official or any person within South Sudan, other than the President, to testify or give opinion before it.

Subsection (3) of 82 further states that, any person who refuses to appear before the National Legislative Assembly or any of its committees or refuses to produce any document as required under sub-article (1) above commits an offence punishable by law.

Following the presentation of the audit’s reports to the House in previous months by the Auditor General Hon. Steven Wondu, Hon. John Luk had actually declined to admit to the House to take legal measures against officials who would be found gilt in the audit reports, though Hon. Wani Igga had to emphasize that it is his duty to execute calls assigned to him by the National Parliament.

The PAC had in the report recommended that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate, prosecute and recover revenue retention, payroll expenditure, unsupported and unbudgeted expenditure, and payment of incorrect bills and should report to the SSNA within six months from the date the house adopts the report.

Several parliamentarians were in opposed to the ministers’ reaction of defending the judiciary and had vowed to grill the judiciary at the time.

However, Hon. Michal Makwei, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister who was formerly the Minister of Justice and lawyers in the house made the Speaker Hon. Daniel Awet to throw out the report for further scrutiny by the PAC and the Committee of Justice and Legal Affairs and report to the house next week.

Parliamentarians were disappointed as many decided to walk out from the House before finishing the items in the agenda. Purposely MPs had wanted to summon the Minister including some of his top heads of department in the Judiciary.

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