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OPINION: “Mismanagement of the Economy”

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This is a follow-up to my recently published article titled ” Reign of Economic Terror” to once again enlighten the public on the ongoing incompetence displayed by both the Minister of Finance and his counterpart at the helm of the Central Bank of South Sudan.

This is to confirm to you that the contents of the previous article – like a prophecy- are being witnessed by the public in what is currently transpiring in the market with the weakening SSP and increase in prices of goods.

Allow me to first disclaim, that I have no interest in the persons that will likely be put at the helm of these institutions, as long as they’re competent enough to deliver some services in their tenures.

Although this has been non-existent with officials appointed in the various positions in the government, the predecessors in the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of South Sudan – Hon. Athian Diing and Hon. Dier Tong, respectively, did prove, as witnessed by the general population that amid the challenges endured, tangible results can be delivered. Credit must also be given to the Governor of Lakes State- Hon. Rin Tueny for the delivering tangible results during this tenure of his Governorship, and also credit to the few other officials who are striving to diligently execute the tasks for which they were appointed.

I am not a lobbyist nor a paid agent of any official, I am just a concerned citizen who has access to individuals with critical information who confide in me, to disseminate the right information to bring about the necessary changes. I do not have any personal issues with the current Minister of Finance- Hon. Agak Achuil and Governor- Hon. Moses Makur, I am just sharing the information collected on their poor performances thus far.

Hon. Minister of Finance- Agak Achuil, In a recent press briefing, the Minister exposed to the public that the oil has been sold in advance in luie of cash received in the past, hence the reason he’s not able to pay salaries and other government commitments.

I reached out to my sources in the Ministry of Finance to get a better understanding of that to expose and a breakdown of the comments of the Minister. Yes, there’s a bit of truth in his statements, but in an actual sense, there were loans taken in the past for Budget Support and payment of foreign missions – rents & salaries, etc. These loans were collateralized by crude oil. Therefore, repayments are made using oil revenues, and the government continues to receive its net share of the oil revenue after repayments.

The sources also added that the Minister excluded some truths which implicate him in the mismanagement of reserves, they said Hon. Athian Diing had accumulated hundreds of millions of USD in reserves, these reserves were to be used to continue their efforts with the economic reforms they had started with Hon. Dier Tong. This policy entitled the building of FX reserves to support stabilize the South Sudanese Pound (SSP) and the FX Market, reserves for budget support and clearing of salary arrears.

The salary arrears were being cleared gradually because lump payments (months of salaries) at once have adverse effects on the economy as this excess liquidity in circulation increases inflation and weakens the SSP.

Therefore, the reason the Ministry of Finance under the leadership of the Hon. Athian was able to gradually bridge the gap of salary arrears while maintaining reserves to continue doing so, and in the process maintain stability in the economy. The sources said ” If Hon. Agak wanted, to be honest, he should’ve revealed the whole truth, such as how did he spend the hundreds of millions in reserves that he found when he became the Minister of Finance”, They further added that Hon. Agak issued cheques to the tune of 140 Million Dollars in his first 3 weeks in office to private companies, some received $10 Million, and a variety of figures (this was collaborated by sources at the Central Bank of South Sudan).

The sources at the Ministry of Finance believe that is where things started to go wrong in the Ministry of Finance, the beginning of the current turmoil at the Ministry of Finance. Adding that the Minister has a hand in the current issues, and he initiated his downfall by mismanaging the resources that were available at hand. Another source added, “Since the Minister likes honesty, he should have spoken about what is happening with the Non-Oil revenue”, they said non-oil revenue collection through the National Revenue Authority use to go into the block account and then transferred to the Ministry’s account at the Central Bank every month, but since Hon. Agak became the Minister, and the revenues deposited at the Central Bank have significantly decreased because they’re issuing payments directly from these blocked accounts.

They finally added that Hon. Agak has miserably failed as a Minister, therefore the reason he’s trying to blame others. Hon. Asian faced the same issues- if not worst- as the current Minister, however, he managed to deliver in his tenure.

Hon. Governor- Moses Makur, As mentioned in the previous article, all remains to be true about the Hon. Moses Makur. This is visible in the market and his management of the Bank of South Sudan. The SSP has fallen to its weakest since last year, the sources at the Bank say he’ is not being a responsible official as he continues to heavily drink alcohol and show up at the office drunk.

One source said ” the exchange rate continues to spiral out of control with $1 hitting 500 SSP in the market, and yet the Governor did not call for an emergency meeting to address this, nor did he call for the Monetary Policy Committee meeting”, instead he’s showing his usual lack of carelessness, and everyone is just sitting back watching the SSP free fall.

Another source added, “the Governor has been away for the whole of last week and arrived on Friday for which he came to the office and travelled the next day Saturday to Ghana to attend a meeting that he could’ve delegated another official, and stay in Juba to address this serious issue happening with the weakening SSP” This has been his character throughout his employment at the Central Bank of South Sudan, although he’s an intelligent individual, he lacks seriousness and self-management skills. The staff at the Central Bank of South Sudan are up until this day shocked by his appointment as the Governor, still in disbelief. The Governor has undone most of the reforms that were successfully implemented by his predecessor. He has resorted to deficit financing/over drafting and issuance of Sovereign Guarantees.
These two were cancelled by resolutions by the council of Ministers, as part of the wider reform agenda initiated last year, and as seen by the wider public, they played a vital role in the success of the reforms, particularly the strengthening of the SSP against the dollar, curbing inflation and stabilizing prices of goods.

The Sovereign guaranteed over $150 million in favour of South Supreme Airlines which was rejected by the previous Governor- Hon. Dier (copy of letter attached in the previous article) has recently been issued by Hon. Moses Makur. A source said that Hon. Makur’s recent statements that powerful people are against his reforms as being a smokescreen to deflect attention from his failures. That Hon. Governor himself has been a beneficiary of FX dealings, both in the past and presently, and has been approving FX exchanges to his close aides at the Bank rate in hope of making a profit through the margins between the Central Bank of South Sudan rate and that of the Black Market.

Another source added ” this Makur is not serious about anything and doesn’t care about anything” and that he’s lying about powerful people fighting him against reforms, because he’s not doing anything, instead of undoing the reforms through his unwillingness and lack of commitment. They further added that most of the reforms were initiated and implemented during Hon. Dier Tong’s tenure, was a difficult time because many rent-seekers were benefiting from the wide margin between the official FX rate and Black Market.

If these so-called ” Powerful People” did exist, then the former Governor would not have been able to implement the reform and unify the rate between the Central Bank of South Sudan and the Black Market. Or maybe they do exist and Hon. Dier Tong, unlike Hon. Moses Makur, was not a person of weak character and incompetence and managed to perform his duties without fear and produce results during his tenure until they finally relieved him.

It is safe to conclude that, based on the facts received from the sources from both the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of South Sudan, the captains on these ships are steering the economy towards murky waters. In the previous article, we raised concerns with hard facts, but it was doubted, it was thought it was the work of a paid agent trying to assassinate the characters of the both Hon. Agak Achuil and Hon. Moses Makur.

Like a prophecy, you can see for yourself now that everything that was shared then is presenting itself before you all. Their incompetence has brought us all to this current stage, the dollar rate is going up in the market every day, petrol prices at the pump are going up every day, inflation is going up and food prices are going up drastically, crime rate/home invasions are on the rise as the last salary for civil servants was for January. Let us hope the decision-makers take note of what is currently transpiring in the market and bring about the much-needed changes to these dockets to rescue the situation.

May 25th, 2022

James Peter Marial
Freelance and Investigate Journalist
The author can be reached at JP.Marial@gmail.com

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