National, News

Chaotic black-market bothers Finance minister

By William Madouk

The incoming Minister of Finance has taken office with emphasis on economic recovery, particularly, on fixing the fluctuating foreign exchange rates in the country.

Dr. Bak Barnaba Chol Bak highlighted his blueprint for economic transformation on Monday.

“Let’s join hands; as a minister of finance, I cannot do anything alone. Let’s join hands to fix this chaotic black market, these high inflation rates, and this high unemployment rate,” he said.

The minister also pledged to increase the food supply to the market in order to stabilize the economy and arrest the fluctuating foreign currency exchange in the country.

“I am going to introduce economic intervention plans; this is a policy intended to fix the foreign exchange market by providing goods to curb the skyrocketing market and also accelerate the implementation of public financial management reforms,” he continued.

The minister also hinted that the docket had suffered financial misfortunes because of reliance on oil and that it was time to put all hands together to revive it through diversification.

“We will diversify our economy and put an end to our total dependency on oil revenue. We are going to embark on the most essential sectors of our economy, like agriculture, infrastructure, and even mining and manufacturing, in the long run,” he noted.

Unshaken, Dr. Bak bets his life for the success of South Sudan’s economic revitalization.

“I know the road to economic transformation will be too rough; I will be called by names, I will be opposed, and I may even be threatened by death,” he emphasized.

The upbeat minister promised to wade through rough storms for the economic recovery of the country.

“I promise, I will stand my ground, I will do my best, and I will persist in pursuing a new path to economic recovery and reforms.” He added, “I will do whatever favors the majority, and people should understand that change is inevitable,” he pledged.

Although elated by his appointment, Bak cited that he is much dismayed about the overwhelming suffering; people are undergoing, for instance, skyrocketing commodity prices and food insecurity.

“My brain will not rest until I make sure I have something to pay our soldiers who are in the bushes protecting us and providing us security,” he recounted.

He also alluded to his worries about citizens who cannot afford transport fares, those staring hunger at the face, and pregnant mothers who don’t have access to healthcare centers in the country.

“We must first have efficient revenue mobilization, and that is the task of the NRA; we must then have an effective financial management system and economical spending,” Bak stressed.

In the process of revamping the economy, the minister vowed not to rest until civil servants’ salary arrears are cleared and timely monthly wage payments effected.

“I will serve you all without discrimination; I will never question your ethnicity, religion, your beliefs, or anything of that kind; I will treat you equally without exceptions,” said Bak.

Dr. Bak also assured the staff of deserving respect while on duty.

“I will offer you, your rights that you deserve, including your salaries, dues, and every coin that you are entangled with, not only within the ministry but across the country,” he added.

Dr. Bak cited that President Salva Kiir, disturbed by the ailing economy, instructed him to transform the finance docket and build the foundation for economic development and progress.

The finance minister assured that, while embarking on the transformation process, minor issues like salary delays, bribery, random check issuances, and a lack of incentive for hardworking staff, among others, must be eliminated.

“We will have to eliminate all these bad habits and open new doors of opportunity for all fellow citizens and employees, regardless of their tribes,” he stressed.

He promised to work with key institutions to strengthen them and bring about the change everyone desires.

To fix the economy and inflation, Kiir told Bak to remain steadfast and deal ruthlessly with cartels in and around the Ministry of Finance.

Bak was appointed on Thursday, August 3, following the sacking of Dier Tong Ngor, who spent 12 months in the office.

When he assumed office on August 3, 2022, a dollar was selling for around 500 pounds.

By the time Ngor left office, exactly one year after his appointment, citizens were bracing for high food prices as the South Sudanese Pound (SSP) hit a new record low against the US dollar, bringing the exchange rate dangerously high to over SSP 1,000 per dollar.


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