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Some members of the public have expressed mixed reaction over the ability of constitutional post-holders to reverse the current economic meltdown South Sudan is facing.
This is after the President established another committee to manage the current economic crisis.
The committee is led by the Vice President for Economic Cluster, Dr. James Wani Igga.
It comprises the ministers of Finance, Trade and Industry, Petroleum, and that of Mining.
Others are the governor of the Central Bank, the Director of National Security Service, Inspector General of Police, Deputy Director of the National Revenue Authority, and the Vice-chancellor of the University of Juba.
They are expected to reverse the depreciating value of the South Sudanese pounds against the US dollars and the scarce collection of oil and non-oil revenues
But some South Sudanese think corruption and conflict of interests may derail the work of the committee.
They referred to the 2014 Crisis Management Committee that was reportedly marred with malpractices and corruption.
In 2014, the Crisis Management Committee suspended some of its subcommittee officials following reports of mismanagement of salaries meant for people at the state levels.
“They were using their own pay sheet and this could not indicate who was present in that place or not,” said Daniel Awet Akot, the then Deputy Chairman of the Crisis Management Committee.
In 2017, the Council of Ministers also formed a similar committee headed by Taban Deng Gai to respond to the economic crisis in the country.
It was to develop a control mechanism for any imported food after concerns were raised by citizens over the high prices of goods in the market.
But food items have continued to skyrocket across the country.
The International Monetary Fund said South Sudan was among Sub-Saharan African nations that are at growing risk of debt distress because of heavy borrowing and gaping deficits.
South Sudanese who spoke to Eye Radio expressed doubts over the ability of the “new” committee to revamp the economy.
“The major problem in our country is corruption, I don’t think this committee will do anything,” said a sceptical resident of Bor, Jonglei state.
“The President has formed the committee -which is not bad at all, but from all the committees formed in the past, there is no committee that has yielded results following their assignment,” said a resident of Wau, Western Bahr el Ghazal state.
Others encouraged the committee to show precedence and deliver on their mandate as set by the President.
“Our wish is that this committee -at least -focus on the work assigned to them so that they become pioneers in producing results, they should not operate like the past committees,” remarked a resident of Aweil, Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.
However, others feel that addressing insecurity is paramount to allowing ordinary people to engage in income-generating activities that they believe will, in turn, bolster the economy.
“The government and those against the government should put down their guns, let civilians surrender their guns to the government and after that, all those in refugee camps will come and embark on agriculture. If we cultivate, we will supply our markets and stabilize our economy,” said a resident of Magwi, Eastern Equatoria state.
An economist argues that the formation of the economic crisis committee is a great step.
“They will follow the terms of reference and those terms of reference are presumed to have been aligned to the economic policies of the country,” said Professor Abraham Matoc.
He, however, explains that the committee should consist of more technocrats saying “it is also important to incorporate economists either in a way of consultancy or by involving them as a way of a technical committee to advise.”
Traders and consumers across the country say there is a steady rise in commodity prices as the South Sudanese Pound weakens against the US Dollar.
Currently, 100 US dollars is sold between 40,000 and 43,000 South Sudanese Pounds in the unofficial market, while a hundred dollar sells at just 16,500 SSP at Central Bank’s rate.
“There must be a quick and rapid decision to be taken to unify the exchange rates,” Dr Akol, leader of the National Democratic Alliance once told Eye Radio, adding that total peace is the only prerequisite to “save the economy from collapsing.”
Last week, the central bank admitted that it is not able to receive enough foreign currency as it used to.
It blamed the depletion of its reserve to the decline in oil production and prices.
President Salva Kiir also complaint last month that the non-oil revenue is not being remitted into the official government account.
The Global Peace Index 2019 ranked South Sudan as worst in the economic cost of violence, measured at 17% of GDP, plus an overall economic impact estimated at around $15.2 billion in East Africa.
Burundi measured at 12% of GDP; Uganda 6%; Rwanda and Kenya 5% each, and Tanzania 4%.
Somalia measured at 26% of GDP.
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