Key Progresses the Central Bank Achieved in Economic Reforms

The Bank of South Sudan entered into a bold action alongside the Ministry of Finance in October last year, of leading the country towards sustainable economic development by introducing several reforms in the sector.
Governor James Alic Garang cuts the tape to open the Bank of South Sudan Branch in Nimule

By Okech Francis

The Bank of South Sudan entered into a bold action alongside the Ministry of Finance in October last year, of leading the country towards sustainable economic development by introducing several reforms in the sector.

While on the surface, things continue to look dire, there is need to understand that South Sudan is being affected by factors beyond its reach currently.

We have a crisis in neighboring Sudan which has already affected the flow of the crude oil into the international market, coupled with piracy of crude by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.

These are beyond the control of the country or its financial institutions, yet have effectively sabotaged South Sudan’s main revenue source. However, the foundations are being set for a vibrant progressive economy in South Sudan.A look at actions by the Bank of South Sudan in recent months reveals a very positive track that will spur the economic growth of the country. They include the following:

Financial Inclusion of the Communities

The Bank of South Sudan has taken up the responsibility of reaching out to the people at the grassroots, taking its services much closer to them. This is being undertaken through opening of branches across the States.

In Eastern Equatoria, a branch has already been opened at Nimule, the country’s most vibrant dry port of entry.Other branches are being opened in Yei in Central Equatoria state, Rumbek in Lakes State, Wau in Western Bahr el Ghazal and slowly covering all states in the country.

Taking banking services to the grassroots increases the local appetites for banking services, introduces those services like loans which in turn help to enhance the financial capacity and livelihoods of the people through cooperatives or companies.

Stepping Up Diversification of the Economy

Reliance on revenue from crude oil export only has proven to be difficult for South Sudan. Since the country got independence, the crude oil sector has been facing challenges, including decline in production, price drops and recently, inability to export the crude through to Port Sudan because of the crisis in Sudan.

In the nonoil revenue sector, the country ought to be consolidating tax collection and production of other commodities for export to fetch the foreign exchange. Again, from the Central Bank point of view, moving into Nimule will resolve key issues and highly boost revenue collection at the border point.

While delivering a speech in Nimule at the opening of the Branch, Governor James Alic Garang noted its effectiveness towards boosting efficient revenue collection for the country.

The branch will open several windows for importing agencies or traders to make direct deposits into government accounts, effectively eliminating go-between commissions and corruption tendencies.

Garang noted that it will reduce risk related to collection of revenue, ensure timely revenue mobilization, reduce bureaucratic red tapes, stem out wastages and expedite transactions essentially boost revenue collection and ensure efficiency in tax collection.

Implementing Chapter 4 of the Peace Agreement

This chapter calls for reforms including in the economic and financial management sectors. It provided for the transitional government of national unity to reform South Sudan’s existing economic and public sector financial management institutions to ensure the most transparent and accountable possible public financial management of oil and non–oil revenues, the exchange rate, budgetary processes, procurement, management of payroll, public concessions, borrowing, debt and regulatory agencies.

Spreading out the tentacles of the Central Bank to the countryside ensures all the reforms agreed to in the peace agreement are implemented fully across the country.At the launch of the Nimule Branch, the Undersecretary of Planning in the Ministry of Finance, Benjamin Ayala Koyongwa, highlighted this development vividly.

“I would like to compliment James Alic Garang for his commitment and dedication to implementing the Chapter 4 of the revitalized transitional agreement by implementing reforms and diversifying our economy and implementing the financial inclusions of all our people,” he said and adding, “This branch may look small but it means the image of our nation.”

Fighting Corruption                        

Elimination of too many middlemen in the taxation business also eliminates rampant corruption that come with it. Corruption is an attribute that is being highly blamed for failing South Sudan in realizing maximum revenue from the nonoil sector.

Too many bureaucracies have led to revenue going into the wrong hands. But this will change when collection is streamlined and key institutions are closer to the ground to keep the revenues. In Nimule, the branch will already open up to direct reception of revenue and as mentioned earlier, will open windows where importers and other agencies will directly deposit revenue into the government accounts.

With corruption aside, this will help realize more revenue for the government and help comprehend with, and as well subdue the economic challenges facing South Sudan.

While the Bank of South Sudan sets all these steps towards reforms and as well incorporates in many more, it is imperative that the people of South Sudan also take steps in shoring up their government by working towards the economic development of the country.

Governor Garang insisted that one of the most important pillars for economic reforms is production. “Production, production and production. Boosting agriculture production is key as it allows economic actors to produce more for dual purposes, subsistence and exports,” Garang said.

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