National, News

Dollar shoots, commodity prices bite

By Bida Elly David


South Sudanese Pounds (SSP) has plummeted further against the United States Dollar, catapulting commodity prices to new heights.

As of yesterday, No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper established that a dollar trades between 1,320 SSP and 1,400 SSP in the parallel market.

This appreciation of the US dollar has had an immediate and severe impact on the prices of commodities in the market.

This outlet further conducted a market survey and found that the price of fuel had gone up from 1,500 SSP to 1,800 SSP. This, in turn, has caused a further increase in the prices of essential food items in the market.

The price of 50 kg of super maize flour, which used to cost SSP 40,000, has now increased to SSP 42,000. Additionally, the price of 50 kg of beans has gone up from SSP 60,000 to SSP61,000.

A 20-litre Jerry cane of cooking oil that previously sold for 50,000 SSP now costs 51,500 SSP.

Furthermore,1 kg of beef has increased from SSP10,000 to SSP10,500. However, the price of a bag of charcoal has remained constant at 10,000 SSP.

Meanwhile, the price of water per barrel remains different based on locations and distance from water filling stations to supply locations.

Ali Osman, a trader in Juba’s Suk Libya market, said the recent increase in commodity prices was triggered by the fuel price, which affects their transportation costs.

Meanwhile, Robert Pitia, Central Equatoria State Chamber of Commerce chairperson, blamed the country’s financial institutions’ failures to control foreign exchange.

He said the central bank and Ministry of Finance have failed to deal with black market money speculators.

Pitia emphasized that money dealers have taken advantage of controlling the market because there is no action from the authorities.

“It is the role of the central bank and the ministry of finance to control the exchange rate. We tried our best to talk to these money traders, but they still insist, so it is not our failure,” said Pitia.

He stated that their role as chambers of commerce is to work for traders, saying it is not compulsory to force them to reduce prices while the government does nothing.

“If the government wants the market to be balanced, they should consider trade tax exemption and centralize the market by dealing with the black market first,” he underscored.

He argued that there has been no proper coordination between the financial institutions and the chamber of commerce at all levels.

“We call on the financial institutions to at least address the issue of the dollar and to make sure things change because, at the end of the day, citizens are the ones suffering, not the government or the traders,” he urged.

Prof. Abraham Mathoc, an economic analyst and the Vice Chancellor of Dr. John Garang University, slammed both the government and the Chambers for the falling economy.

He criticized the government for failing to listen to the advice of centralizing the economy not being a free market economy.

Mathoc stressed that the government has the weakness of leaving market dealers to use money as a commodity, saying it is dangerous.

“How do we expect prices to come down if dealers are the ones controlling the market freely while the government sees?” he questioned.

He stated that it is now people outside of the government who are controlling the money, not the government. With this, no quick reforms will occur.

“The dealers save money in both dollars and pounds at home; if they need pounds to be scarce, they release dollars, and the opposite is true,” he stated.

“Money should be interactive, not a commodity. The dollar in South Sudan still remains a commodity. Why? You need green data production only with the expectation that the government will control intervention in the market,” he continued.

On the same note, the economist slammed the chamber of commerce both at national and state levels for influencing traders.

He said these institutions are sometimes involved in contributing to inflation in the market. He urged them to advocate for de-inflation and fight for the country’s citizens.

The economic expert also advised consumers to take advantage of opportunity costs when their disposable income can’t meet the prices of other goods.

“Let our fellow citizens decide the purchase of goods wisely; if they can’t afford expensive things, they should shift to their fellow traders who sell other goods cheaply,” he advised.

Last week, the Bank of South Sudan announced a deadline of 45 days for unauthorized black-market money dealers to register as legal agents.

This sudden surge in the value of the US dollar has added a severe impact on the already struggling economy, causing significant price increases in the commodity market.



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