14 November 2011

South Sudan: Ministry of Finance Acts On High Prices

press release

Juba — The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in the Republic of South Sudan has joined the fight against skyrocketing prices of goods and services in the markets across the country.

In an attempt to make goods more available and affordable, the ministry convened a one-day workshop in Juba for all the finance ministers of all the ten states to simplify and harmonize revenue collection across South Sudan and also to ensure fair allocation of resources.

Speaking at the weekly media briefing at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting which was hosted by the minister Hon Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjemen last week, the Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning Hon. Marial Awou said the findings of the committee that was formed by the government of the Republic of South Sudan to investigate the recent rise of prices of goods and services presented to council of ministers and later incorporated into resolution number 41/2011 did point not only a single factor that led to the high prices of goods and service but rather several factors.

He added that among the reasons cited were to do with multiple or unofficial taxations along the roads of South Sudan. He explained that the coming together of the state finance ministers was one way to achieve the objective of making goods and services available and affordable to the people of South Sudan.

A fight against price increases was started by the Central Bank of South Sudan by doubling its hard currency allocation to the financial institutions from the US $100 million to US $200 million across the country. Similarly, the Ministry of Interior removed money changers, who had made it a habit of hoarding US dollars and selling it expensively at a time of scarcity, from the streets of Juba and other border points. These measures have already seen the local currency South Sudan Pounds (SSP) trading at 3.4 (SSP) in the commercial banks against one US Dollar as opposed to the record rate of 4.25 (SSP) for a US Dollar a few months ago.

Hon. Awou announced that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the state finance ministries have agreed on a number of resolutions to be taken to contain skyrocketing prices.

He said it was agreed that all checkpoints and roadblocks that had turned into unlawful tax collection points were to be immediately removed to allow free flow of goods between South Sudan and its neighboring countries and also inside the country. He added that they also discussed on how to improve transfers from the central government to the state governments. He further added they also agreed that the state governments and the national government shall work together in national mechanisms of state revenue collections and also mechanisms of sharing taxes in such a way that taxes such as customs duty, business duty that are the responsibility of the national government and other taxes to be relegated to the state levels.

These are among the many other efforts being made by the government to take the already improving situations of market prices even much further down to make life affordable for every ordinary South Sudanese who has been finding it difficult to put food on his table.

Present on the media briefing was the Deputy Minister for Information and Broadcasting Hon. Atem Yaak Atem, the second Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning Hon. Mary Jervas Yak, the Undersecretary of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Mr.George Garang and the state finance ministers.

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