Citizens brace commodity hikes as SSP drops against dollar

By William Madouk

South Sudanese will have to brace commodity soar as the local currency South Sudanese Pound (SSP) plummet to record low against dollar, as Central Bank official rate shot up to SSP 769 per a dollar while the black market rate staggers at 800 per dollar.

Consumers will now have to dig deeper into their pockets to buy some of essential goods, whose prices are weighing on the economy’s economic recovery.

As of yesterday, the official Central Bank rate against the US Dollars that was at SSP 758 increased to SSP 769 per a dollar while black market hiked from SSP 760 per $1 to SSP 800 which led to soaring of commodity prices in markets.

No.1 Citizen Newspaper Daily Newspaper established that maize flour of 50kg bag that sold at SSP 31,000 previously now sells at 32,000 SSP, while a 20 litres jerry can of cooking oil that used to be at SSP 19,000 is now being sold at SSP 22,000.

Sugar of 50kg bag for instance was SSP 34,000 but currently it is SSP 38,000, a sack of lentils could be purchased at SSP 21,000 and its hiked to SSP 24,000, while beans increased from SSP 52,000 to SSP 56,000 per 50kg bag.

Similarly, rice that used to sell at SSP 13,500, is currently selling at SSP 15,000, onion was SSP 19,000 but now sells at SSP 22,000 meanwhile box of soap has jumped from SSP 12,000 to SSP 13,500.

One currency dealer who spoke to this newspaper off record, said a dollar is being bought at SSP 800 and sold at SSP 840 in black market.

“We now buy one dollar at price of SSP 800 and sell it at SSP 840,” said the dealer whose name is withheld for sensitivity of the matter.

In an exclusive interview, Stephen Wani Aquilino, the Chairperson of Juba City Chamber of Commerce moaned that the increment in commodities’ prices was due to high demand of dollar and depreciation of the South Sudanese Pounds.

“The increment of the prices is due to the rise of the US dollar, simply caused by the high demand – most of the South Sudanese are sending their money outside the country, they exchange it into US dollar and send it to their kids in East Africa” Aquilino said.

He added that the policy of Central Bank in trying to combat parallel market by increasing official bank rate in par with black market is the main contributor to price hikes, and giving dollar to individuals or none traders.

“Increasing official rate is one of the contributing factors because by increasing the rate every day that tantamount to increasing the rate of black market” Aquilion noted.

“Again, Central Bank must give dollars to the real traders or business people so that they can bring food items not giving approval to those who are not tactically in business” he added.

Mr. Aquilino stressed that if the bank pumps money to traders then the mess in the market can be addressed and price will eventually drop. He also hinted that if nothing is changed, then the worst will be expected.

“I am fearing if the dollar demand is still very high and we don’t have enough hard currency and our traders want to bring some food items or building materials from aboard the few dollars will be shipped out and people will be forced to buy with any price” he warned.

“More increment will come unless Central Bank pumps enough dollars specifically to traders who are ready to bring food items or their goods in a good price or rate” he added.

Aquilino advised the government to empower local traders and provide them enough hard currency so that they would be able to control market that is manipulated by foreigners.

He also called on citizens to remain calm adding that with peace the country can be stable and economic strength can be regained. 

For his part, one local shopkeeper in Juba town who preferred to remain anonymous said his business keeps on going down every day because every time he visited the market, prices are never found the same.

He further revealed that when foreign traders at wholesale want to increase the prices they agree among themselves to hide essential good until when it became scarce in the market then price automatically raise.

The shopkeeper advised the government to empower local traders and also make sure such unethical trading by foreigners is brought to an end.

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