South Sudan eyes currency change to ease economic woes

South Sudan will change the country’s currency, in a move the government says is aimed at improving its beleaguered economy.

Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth broke the news at a press conference in the capital Juba, following a cabinet meeting that approved the change.

“The cabinet has decided that the current currency should be changed….This is to improve our economic situation.”

Africa’s newest nation has used the South Sudanese pound as its country’s currency since gaining independence from Khartoum in 2011 after a long and protracted civil war.

The currency to some, represents a relic of the painful ages; as former master Sudan also uses the Pound.

South Sudan has been facing an economic crisis, which, frankly emerged just months after gaining independence. A war broke out between former Vice President Riek Machar’s militias and government forces headed by President Salva Kiir just 180 days after the birth of the nation.

Graft and mismanagement sunk the economy further, with the final nail on the coffin being the drop in global crude oil prices due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. South Sudan’s economy is heavily reliant on the sale of crude oil; the sector accounts for 86% of its Gross Domestic Product.

In July, a Central Bank official, announced that the country had run out of foreign exchange reserves and could not halt the Pound’s depreciation.

He added, “Many citizens are keeping their money at home, while others if they take their money to the banks, it will be confiscated.”

The cabinet did not elaborate when exactly the new currency will be rolled out.

“We will have the new currency anytime….this is the information to the people and the people will be given a time limit,” said Makuei Lueth.

Lueth added that the cabinet decision had been approved by representatives of commercial banks operating in the country, who attended the meeting and are part of an economic committee working with the central bank.

That committee has been tasked with outlining a clear policy on the economy within seven days.

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