More dollars for you, Finance Minister tells traders

Dier Tong Ngor Minister of Finance (L)

By William Madouk Garang

Business community and local traders will now be provided with enough hard currency to upturn hiking food prices in the markets, the new Finance Minister said on Tuesday.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dier Tong Ngor gave his assurances after meeting with President Salva Kiir and Economic Cluster team led by Dr. James Wani Igga to discuss measures on how to stabilize the economic situation in the country.

This came after, Robert Pitia, the chairperson of Central Equatoria State Chamber of Commerce had lamented that the business community is not benefiting from the Central Bank’s weekly auctioning.

Mr. Pitia told the media earlier that traders are forced to buy hard currency from the black market like the rest of the citizens which is one of the factors that contributed to high prices in the markets.

“The business community is buying dollars from the black market so the question is why, there is no mechanism put in place to address these issues,” Pitia was quoted by the City Review.

He continued to call on the government to provide dollars to traders, exempt taxes on imported food items and support business cooperative centers so that people buy them at lower prices.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Minister Dier said they would inject plenty of dollars into the market asserting that they will also supply traders with foreign currency to tame the volatile economic situation. 

“The Ministry of Finance and the Bank of South Sudan will cooperate to make sure that sufficient foreign currency is injected into the market to stabilize the exchange rate,” Dier assured.

“We are going to work closely with the local traders to provide for them sufficient hard currency to supply food commodities in order to stabilize the prices of food commodities in the market,” he added.

The Minister of Finance also stated that in their meeting they have resolved to hold regular technical meetings to review the economic situation weekly.

In the meeting they also discussed issues of the rising exchange rates and prices of food commodities, fiscal and monetary measures which include stoppage of Bank overdrafts.

Market survey indicated that most of the commodity prices were still high despite government auctioning 20 million dollars to commercial banks and forex bureaus on weekly basis.

An Economic expert had termed Central Bank’s auctioning off millions of dollars as a measure of tackling unsteady exchange rates as ‘old theory’ and thus urged financial institutions to think outside the box.

Dr. Abraham Maliet Mamer who is an economic advisor in the Office of Vice President Dr. James Wani Igga, said auctioning is a short term risk management policy that the country should avoid.

According to him, the only solution for the dire economic situation in the country is to introduce agriculture schemes and commoditize some minerals such as gold, iron to be exported outside the country.

“I am suggesting it [auctioning] should stop because it’s not any longer a modern practice but the only way to stop it is, we have to produce goods and services that will delete the bill of dollars,” Mamer told the media earlier. 

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