By Ngor Arol Garang
February 2, 2011 (JUBA) - A high ranking official in the political arena of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) has issued a strong warning, suggesting the possibility of economic collapse ahead of the official announcement of the region’s independence.
- Building of the Bank of Southern Sudan (photo BOSS)
Speaking at the weekly media forum, organised by the ministry of information and broadcasting service, on Tuesday, in the regional capital of Juba, Elijah Malok Aleng the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Sudan expressed fears of economic collapse, before it becomes independent.
"I am afraid the state is collapsing before it even begins. In as long as you are not straight, the economy will not be straight, because, a few of you will control the economy. You will be tycoons.
"We already know of people who have millions in their accounts, whether in Ivory or Buffalo Banks. Where did you get the money from, it is simply because you got it wrongly. Those who will not have anything to do with the state will go to the street.
"What is happening in Tunisia, Cairo can easily come here. Let us look at what the resources of the state are. And let us see how they are rationalised to the public so that they are satisfied,” Aleng told the press.
The senior bank official also informed the press that the region is likely to become independent in less than a year and will have its own currency, which will be released when discussions between the parties are over.
"In the event the final results of the referendum on self-determination for the people of south Sudan are announced in favour of secession and it becomes an independence state, the south will have its own currency. This will be released, once current discussions, taking place between the parties, referring to National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the SPLM, are concluded", said Aleng.
However, he declined to comment on the name of the new currency and its value, saying they are delicate issues which cannot be made public before post-referendum arrangement discussions on economics are concluded. Aleng also said the bank is trying its best to stimulate and maintain a modest foreign exchange rate, through appropriate policies and interventions.
"We are trying our best to at least maintain the stability of the bank, but there are several economic and human factors which hinder these efforts. One of these factors is that the region depends heavily on imported foods and technical labour from neighbouring countries, paid in hard currency. Another factor driving inflation is that many South Sudanese have their families still in the Diaspora thus send their salaries [abroad]", said Aleng.
Aleng also linked the scarcity of hard currency, especially US dollars, to the country’s international commitments. However, US$40 million is released every month to the public through commercial banks and foreign exchange establishments.
"The government has set in place policies and projects to attract back and discourage citizens sending out their family members to foreign countries. One of these is building standard schools, hospitals, roads and giving attention to other social amenities, so as to attract back our citizens from the Diaspora", said Barnaba Marial Benjamin Bil, minister of information and broadcasting service in GoSS.