By Ngor Arol Garang
September 1, 2011 (JUBA) - The government of South Sudan on Thursday
swore in members of the country’s first cabinet since separation from North Sudan, on the day that South Sudan pounds officially became the legal tender of the newly independent nation.
- South Sudan cabinet swearing in Juba. Sept. 1, 2011 (GoSS website)
The swearing ceremony, administered by Chan Rec Madut Chief Justice of the Republic of South Sudan, was attended by President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his deputy Riek Machar Teny. President Kiir congratulated the new ministers and told them to begin work immediately.
South Sudan’s minister of information Barnaba Marial Benjamin told the media at the presidency shortly after the swearing-in ceremony that an estimated 2.1 billion Sudanese pounds ($0.78 billion) has been collected and exchanged for new South Sudan pounds (SSP).
He said the governor of the central bank had informed the cabinet that the one month conversion process had been completed in all ten states of South Sudan.
“From now the new South Sudan pound is the legal tender. The old Sudan
pound would be regarded as [an] illegal note, since it has been replaced”,
explained the minister.
The information minister who is also the governments official spokesperson did not say what South Sudan would do with the old notes but said discussions with Khartoum on the future of the currency would continue.
"Discussions on the fate of the old currency would resume immediately from tomorrow", he said.
Sudan is also in the process of changing its currency from old Sudan pounds into new Sudan pounds. In the run up to South Sudan’s secession Juba and Khartoum were not able to agree on a joint approach to moving away from having the same currency post-partition.
With no deal done by July 9, both countries quickly introduced new notes to avoid being left with a devalued currency. South Sudan had intended to sell the old Sudan pounds back to Khartoum but appears to have been scuppered as Sudan has already introduced the new Sudan pound. Only low denominations - five, two, and one pound notes - of the old currency and coins are still in circulation in Sudan.
The governor of the Bank of South Sudan, Cornella Koryom Mayiik, told Sudan Tribune he was “pleased to let the general public know that the coverage of currency conversion in all the states has been accomplished successfully."
He said that South Sudan’s notoriously poor road network and heavy rains had made the process challenging. Insecurity in some areas had forced the exchange process to be briefly suspended.
MARIAL RETURNS TO INFORMATION MINISTRY
The minister of Information and Broadcasting Barnaba Marial Benjamin, who was one of the few national cabinet members to retain his portfolio, told a thanksgiving reception at his ministry on Thursday that working together was essential for the government to discharge its duties.
- Marial Benjamin Bil, minister of information speaks to journalists on 1st September 2011 in Juba ( Photo: ST/Ngor Garang)
Marial told employees at his ministry that now South Sudan is independent it must stand on its own two feet.
"As a new country we must now shoulder all the responsibilities of nationhood. There should be no excuses anymore now that we have become an independent state."
He welcomed the contribution of all his employees and expressed confidence that the ministry will improve through teamwork.
"There is no reason why we should not do better as a ministry if we work together", he said.
Marial who is one of the few ministers who retained their position, explained that his reappointment into the ministry demonstrates the confidence the president has in him and the rest of the ministry. He pledged to perform his duties diligently to ensure that all the people of South Sudan are adequately informed.
The minister also welcomed the appointment of Atem Yak Atem as his deputy, describing him as a legend in the field of information. Atem’s contribution will be invaluable, Marial said, adding that they would work together to build a successful ministry in order to fulfill the government’s plans and programs.