South Sudan President Salva Kiir has fired the governor and first deputy governor of the Bank of South Sudan without explanation. Kiir issued two decrees Wednesday night removing Governor Othom Rago Ajak and Deputy Governor Dier Tong Ngor from their posts.
A South Sudanese economic analyst says the two bank governors were likely removed because of their failure to improve the nation’s deteriorating economy. Sources at the Bank of South Sudan confirmed to VOA’s South Sudan in Focus radio program there has been a changing of the guard at the bank.
President Kiir’s Press Secretary, Ateny Wek Ateny, was less certain.
“I have not seen a decree yet and I cannot talk about speculation. If there is any decree that the president issued in regards to the relieving of the governor of the central bank it should be read at the SSBC,” (South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation) Ateny told VOA.
South Sudan in Focus saw a copy of a presidential decree issued May 9 firing Ajak and Ngor. Another decree obtained by the program shows the appointment of Dier Tong Ngor as the new governor of the Bank of South Sudan and Albino Dak Othow as the new first deputy governor.
Ahmed Morgan, professor of economics at the University of Juba, said since Ajak’s appointment, the economy has not improved.
“His appointment came when the economy started going bad and was expected to improve with the new appointment, but there’s nothing that is improving; the financial arrangement in the country is even worsening. If you look at the inflation rate, it’s on the increase,” Morgan told South Sudan in Focus.
Morgan said Ajak could have done much more to curb the skyrocketing inflation rate, which devalued the South Sudanese pound.
“The governor was appointed with the expectation of making some changes in the economy, to improve the economy in terms of monitory policies. A major thing the central bank governor has to do is to rearrange the currency so that the currency looks good even if the inflation is high,” said Morgan.
Today, one U.S. dollar is exchanged for 30,000 South Sudanese Pounds on the Black Market.
Morgan said the new governor has a lot of work to do.
“The task is to work with some brilliant economists in this country in order to see what they can do to rearrange the monetary position of the country, not in terms of earning money for the country because the work of earning money depends on production," said Morgan, adding, “the central bank has to do some internal arrangements such that we have a better picture of our currency.”
Morgan also said in order for the economy to improve in a sustained manner, the country’s leaders must end the war and invest in production.
The conflict in South Sudan has gone on for five years, despite a 2015 peace agreement and numerous declared cease-fires. More than four million people have been displaced from their homes.