Opinion

Central Banks hould put its house in order before pointing fingers

By Staff Reporter

The Central Bank of South Sudan should not be pointing fingers at media houses for reporting its flaws about issues of national importance. The bank knows very well that we stand to inform, educate and entertain the larger masses who are the public. As a public institution, they must live to this reality and not sidekick or doormat others because no one should point a finger at them.

The BOSS for the second time has bluntly blamed Juba Monitor for reporting perceived “misinformation and baseless facts” as mentioned by the governor of the bank.

Dier Tong Ngorthe governor yesterday went on the record for his second time attacking Juba Monitor for running a story involving a defective cheque for payment of arrears to the East African Community sometimes in February this year. The question one should ask was the cheque or what they want people to believe as swift cleared or not by the East African Community (EAC) bank in Arusha. We have documents instructing the Central Bank to pay the amount of 1.5 million USD and this is where they should come clean and tell the public the truth. Indeed as one Member of Parliament in the EAC bloc commented is a bad image and shame to the country among the sisterly states. We have nothing personal but we cannot take it lying down when a reputable institution is insinuating what seems to be malice to come out of the actual issue by side licks.

The story cameafter South Sudanese Legislature in the East African Community Legislative Assembly (EAC-LA) blamed the bank and the Ministry of Finance for embarrassing the country and the head of state beforesisterly countries of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda after the payment cheque bounced back.

Governor Ngor in his statement claimed that the story was a misinformation and that it lacked facts but only to acknowledge later in his speech that there was a sort of “administrative delays at certain” points of transactions.

He explained that the payment was made through a SWIFT (meaning Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial .Telecommunication, which is a global network that processes payments between different countries), a technical term only apparent to bankers not the laymen.

“You said 1.5 million USD what are we doing about it. We are a banker for the government, it is the government that pays, it’s not us, and it’s the Ministry of Finance. When they are paying, they pay through us (the Central Bank of South Sudan).

Let me take this opportunity to correct some misinformation that I saw this morning in the newspaper (Juba Monitor Newspaper) that a cheque of 1.5m that was to be paid to the East African Community and that cheque bounced.

That is misinformation! That is a misinformation! First of all we don’t pay the EAC by cheques, we don’t make international payments by cheques, we don’t write cheques to east African community or to any person we are paying abroad.

We write swifts and we cannot send a SWIFT when we know there is no balance. I know very well that amount was paid and I’m aware about it and I know that I have millions of dollars in our account as reserve with the Afri-Exim bank, so there is no cheque that has bounced.

There are alwaysadministrative delays at certain point…this world now especially our region is under kind of focus (scrutiny) regarding issues relating to knowing your customer and anti-money laundry laws. In any payment that you make when you send to the other bank, that bank will make sure they know origin of that money and there will be a lot of documentation.

When this document was sent, there were documents that were required that led to the delay of the payment of the cheque. I myself checked it and I know this had hit account of the east African community at KCB in Tanzania. So that information is completely false, it was not based on any facts. We sent the SWIFT based on the instruction from the Ministry of Finance and the money has been paid to KCB Tanzania to East African Community account”.

We would like to remind the governor that if we got it wrong then you should talk to your officers who talked to us and even confirm that the said legislator came all the way fromKampala to Juba to raise the issue of the unpaid part of subscription with your office. We would not be seeking denial if what is pointed out is meant to be for the benefit and improvement of the bank. Nobody has anything to gain but for public to know what is going on in their own institution they have that right to have the information.

The Central Bank throughout since 2011 has seen its administration changed and recycled seven timesover unclear circumstances only to witness the exchange rate against the dollar worsen as the parallel market thrives freely.

Measures such as the auctioning of 2million dollars to forex bureaus (who also exchange at black market rate as according to several impromptu surveys carried out by Juba Monitor since last year) did not prove positive against the exchange rate (the latest being at about 640 SSP per dollar).

Throughout its existence the bank has been managed by Elijah MalokAleng–from July 2005 to August 2011(as the central bank of Southern Sudan) who was succeeded by KornelioKoriomMayiek and stayed from August 2011 – January 2017.

OthomRagoAjak took over in January 2017 until May 2018, after which the current governor Dier Tong Ngor first served from May 2018 but was abruptly replaced by former governor GamalAbdallaWani inJanuary 2020.

Dier Tong Ngor came back again as a governor in November 2020 but the exchange rate which influence hikes in consumer prices in the markets has not changed for better.

In August last year the bank admitted it had run out of Reserves and could not stop the currency from sliding further down against the hard currency.

The bank also last year announced plans to purchase crude gold after it approved 4m dollars, to boost the economy but the plans was dubbed as “economy nonsense” by economist, citing the use of dollar instead to purchase the mineral.

Today, it is not clear what happened to that plan.

All the policies changes in the central bank have not changed the skyrocketing exchange rate, inflation and defaulting of payment to the regional and international blocs (East African Community and United Nations had once or twice threatened to sideline the country representative in the businesses of the blocs over delayed or lack  payment of arrears).

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