National Economic Conference to kick off today

National Economic Conference to kick off today

The long-awaited South Sudan National Economic Conference is kicking off today at Freedom Hall in Juba as stakeholders who are shaping the country’s policy and influencing the economic performance eye a stimulus plan.

Funded to the tune of $1 million, or approximately SSP1 billion, the government seeks to use the conference as an eye opener by identifying appropriate physical and monetary policies for the nation to achieve macroeconomic stability and this is expected to involve even the partners.

On Sunday, the undersecretary in the National Ministry of Finance and Planning, Benjamin Koyongwa, said a myriad of issues had been lined for debate.

“The conference will focus on the transition of the country from the oil revenue dependency to non-oil,” Benjamin said, adding that delegates from all the states and administrative areas are expected to take their seats for the discussion that will in the long-term shape that country’s destiny.

While expectations are high about the event, on Friday, Mr Koyongwa cautioned the citizens against expecting instant results although there are a number of issues on the table.

Speaking to the media about the preparations, the undersecretary said it would be absurd to expect that the economy would turn a corner after the five-day event because the policies that will be churned out are long-term in nature.

“Our people should not expect that the prices in the market are going to come down and exchange rate of dollars to come down but it will eventually come down at some points when the recommendation of the conference are implemented,” he cautioned.

However, speaking to The City Review on Sunday, an activist, Ter Manyang, argued that the conference would only help the country if the resolutions drafted are effectively implemented.

“I am sure the conference will end with a beautiful resolution but I am worried about the implementation,” he said.

Manyang drew a comparison with the governor’s forum that ended in tens of resolutions with zero implementation, arguing that it would be tragic for the government to pump money to save the economy only for the resolutions to gather dust.

“If the government implements the resolution of the economic conference, South Sudan will be free from economic crisis,” he added.

Plan mooted

President Salva Kiir ordered the Ministry of Finance and Planning earlier in the year to plan for the conference in order to address the growing economic crisis at his State of the nation address.

After 11 years of independence, South Sudan remains impacted by instability and economic hardship, worsening poverty levels, conflict, displacement, and external shocks.

In early August, the minister of finance and planning Bak said the first target of the government would be to address the economic crisis facing the country and the conference would identify priorities to manage current and medium-term economic challenges and identify areas that will move South Sudan out of oil revenue dependency to non-oil revenue.

“The aims of the conference are to inform the economic sector and other stakeholders about the current status of the economy and public financial management reforms, achievements, and challenges and will also seek to allow the economic sector and other stakeholders to present their main concerns and challenges on the economic situation in South Sudan and proposals to address them,” Bak said.

The outcome of the conference will be used to promote a policy dialogue aimed at achieving macroeconomic stability, effective planning and budgeting, sustainable resource mobilization, prudent resource allocation and government spending, organizational capacity strengthening, and presenting South Sudan as an investment destination to the world.

Currently, South Sudan battles various economic hardships ranging from unemployment, inflation that is synonymous with a devalued currency, high dependence on imports and an economy that depends heavily on oil.