National, News

Gov’t, traders clash over economic turmoil

By Bida Elly David/ Gladys Fred Kole


A heated debate erupted at ongoing Juba Economic Forum between government and national chamber of commerce, industry, and agriculture over inflation.

As South Sudanese pound weakening further against the US dollar, exacerbating economic hardships and pushing citizens to the brink, authorities and the business community are grappling for solutions.

Ladu Lukak Losidik, the chairperson of the National Chamber of Commerce, directly placed the blame on the government for the nation’s ailing economy. He asserted government has not made any tangible progress to benefit the citizens.

“Traders have been pinched by the government in South Sudan; we are sometimes told to supply food items on a contract basis but are not paid; we supplied sorghum, flour, and oil, but we are not paid, so what sense does it make?” he said.


Chamber of Commerce Chairperson denied that traders were responsible for the rise in commodity prices but attributed it to the rocketing US dollar rates.

Lukak argued that South Sudan is currently grappling with critical issues such as inadequate internal and interconnecting roads, a scarcity of reliable electricity supply, and yet the government continues to shift the blame onto the business community.

“We have enough food produced in Yambio, Western Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, and parts of Central Equatoria, but where are the roads for the producers to export their goods? Thus, how can traders be blamed?” he questioned the authorities.

He stated that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure economic reforms through infrastructure, power supply, and other services, not the traders.

Lukak cited a series of excuses from the Ministry of Finance regarding outstanding dues, lamenting the lack of progress in resolving these issues.

Drawing attention to the past, Lukak questioned the absence of similar initiatives in present-day South Sudan.

“In the early 1970s, internal roads and cross-border highways used to be worked on monthly, but where in South Sudan do we see that happening?” he further queried.

He urged citizens to demand basic services such as road infrastructure from the government instead of remaining silent.

Lukak criticized the authorities for favoring foreign traders over domestic ones, challenging the perception that South Sudanese traders lack skills.

He defended local traders, asserting that the government’s lack of trust and financial support hindered their competitiveness.

In response, Taban Deng Gai, the vice president for infrastructure cluster, countered Lukak’s claims and shifted the blame to the South Sudanese people themselves.

Taban acknowledged the country’s poor infrastructure but argued that the economy was still progressing.

He attributed the economic inconsistencies to the laziness of the South Sudanese population.

“South Sudanese are too lazy; we leaders who speak in such forums are very tired; you cannot complain of a falling economy while you are the ones leaving Eritreans to drop for your water,” he justified his argument.

“If you think the economy is falling, keep sleeping and enjoying it while the economy is for Addis or Asmara.”

With all these, Taban described South Sudan as the youngest nation and the least developing country that needs enough time to progress.

“It is true that we don’t have roads, infrastructure, or railway lines, but we are endowed with enough resources; development will come if we have good policies,” he noted.

“The economy is moving; now the Juba-Bor road is fully tarmacked, the Juba-Terekeka road is equally tarmacked, and there is more road advancement all over the country to improve connectivity with the neighboring countries,” he highlighted.

Meanwhile, Michael Makuei Lueth, the Minister of Information encouraged citizens to take more responsibility for their own lives.

Makuei criticized the predominant mindset of expecting the government to do everything, urging citizens to take risks and engage in business activities.

“No one will support you on how to work; don’t talk while sitting; start working, and we will give you support, but you sit down there and say the government is not doing anything,” Makuei criticized.

He stressed that economic progress is driven by businesspeople and that citizens need to work hard to overcome the economic crisis the country faces.

Makuei advised citizens to engage in agricultural activities and bring their produce to the market to lower commodity prices.

He advised businesspeople to focus on cultivating food locally and promoting poultry farming instead of relying on imports.

Sarah Nene, the deputy governor of Central Equatoria State, speaking on behalf of governor Emmanuel Adil Anthony emphasized the need for investment to mend both the state and national economies.

She stressed that investing in sectors such as healthcare, education, and businesses would bolster the country’s economy.

Meanwhile, Sulieman Abdullahi Hassan, representing the Somali business community, expressed their readiness to invest in various sectors in South Sudan.

“Our coming to South Sudan is not only for business but also to learn from them. The Somali business community contributes a lot to development as well as cooperation with South Sudan,” he said.

Hassan praised the hospitality extended to them by the people of South Sudan, particularly within the business environment.

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