JUBA, (Xinhua) --
South Sudan on Thursday defended a decision to facilitate its
lawmakers with 40,000 U.S. dollars each to purchase
state-of-the-art cars despite economic hardship caused by more
than four years of violence.
Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told Xinhua that decision will
help enhance the effectiveness of parliament since many MPs have
been using commercial motorcycle taxis to go to work.
“This is to enhance
the effectiveness of parliament by giving members a loan which
will be paid within five years,” Ateny said in Juba, adding that
this is not strange since other governments have done the same.
Ateny said the
expenditure on parliamentarians is from the South Sudan
parliament now has 440 members, a number expected to reach 550
when the warring parties finally conclude a peace agreement on
Aug. 5 in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
“South Sudan is a
sovereign country and you do not need to question the source of
the money. It is South Sudan money,” he said.
Sudanese civil society members and locals have questioned the
decision to award MPs exorbitant cash as the majority of people
wallow in poverty amid UN agencies’ warning that about 7 million
people need emergency food aid.
Marial Awou Yol, a
lecturer of economics at University of Juba, said the loan would
be costly as it will trigger demands for salary increase from
other government employees, which the country cannot afford at
And the lawmakers
may not be able to repay the loans because of their low
salaries, he added.
“How can somebody
who gets a salary of 40 to 50 dollars per month pay a car loan
of 40,000?” he asked.
descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has
created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.
A 2015 peace
agreement was shattered when the warring parties renewed
fighting in July 2016 in the capital, forcing rebel leader Riek
Machar to flee into exile.
The UN estimates
that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced
internally and externally.