Inflation: Government decries speculation, begs traders to keep shops open
Information minister Michael Makuei yesterday, after an emergency extraordinary cabinet meeting, told the media that the government is appealing to traders to keep their shops open amid market pressures sparked by the free-falling currency.
“After thorough deliberations, the cabinet decided to appeal to those business people and those traders who have closed their shops, to open them to the public,” Michael Makuei said. “All those who have closed their shops are in a way adding more to what is already there. And as a result, all the traders are expected to open up their shops and keep on selling to the customers. This is an appeal to them.”
Minister Makuei also blamed speculators and people who he accused of hoarding large sums of cash for creating a run on the South Sudanese Pound, in the process making it rapidly depreciate against the United States dollar.
The minister said that the cabinet had last week resolved that the currency will be exchanged and it also directed that a committee comprised of the minister of finance and the governor of the central bank will need to come up with studies on how to implement the plan.
“This was of course announced last week and after that announcement, the market almost went into a rampage. In my statement here (last Friday) I directed and requested those who are hoarding money to take it to the banks beforehand,” Makuei said.
“This automatically to others meant that the government must be having a malicious plan and it might decide to borrow out their money or as such it might decide to question those who will be depositing heavily. And as a result, those who hoarded the money decided to go to the market and buy the dollar at any rate. And as such, the dollar jumped that high and as of today (Wednesday) it is 75 SSP to US$ 1,” he added.
He urged the traders to be nationalistic and not destroy the market.
According to Makuei, there are two factors involved; “those who are hoarding the money and those who are selling in their shops. Those who are selling in their shops, as soon as the dollar increases by one pound, add a pound to the price of their goods and at the end of the day it is the consumer who becomes a victim.”
He said his trade and industry counterpart will be meeting with all the business communities that are operating in South Sudan, “While their shops are open, if they have any grievances, they will discuss these issues with the trade minister.”
The minister said while these measures are being taken, the government is also planning to inject into the market, through the central bank and other commercial banks, a lump sum (dollars) that will stabilize the economy.
“My last message is to assure all the traders and business people that their businesses will not be affected in a way or the other. You are only destroying your businesses by buying dollars at that very high rate. Why don’t you wait for that time when the government will avail you of the necessary dollars at an affordable rate so that you can buy and make use of your money?” Makuei implored.
The information minister also appealed to traders not to increase prices arbitrarily in tandem with the increased price of the dollar.
Makuei said, “This is the advice that we are giving to those who are trying to inflate and destroy the market. Our advice to the business people is not to keep increasing the prices of your goods because the dollar has gone up. This is not healthy and as such we also appeal to them to keep to their prices because at the end of the day you will be making a wrongful gain.”