Response to critics of reforms initiated by  minister of finance and planning, Dr Bak Barnaba

Response to critics of reforms initiated by  minister of finance and planning, Dr Bak Barnaba

In the waves of these world economic crises and threats posed by environmental degradation and wars across continents, many countries are faced with challenges that impede the growth of economies. The governments of the day struggle to recover their economic strengths through the formulation of policies that are directed to adjust the economies and recovery plans and meet the needs of the people. For instance, in the 1920s, Germany was once hit by severe inflation, however, after its government-employed reforms in economic institutions, Germany now shines among the superpower countries.

South Sudan, like other countries in the world, faces numerous challenges in the quest to recover its economic strength, which had been disrupted by the stoppage of the oil flow in 2012; and again, plunged into conflict in 2013. The floods and droughts in some parts of the country are hindering subsistence, leading to a high cost of living.

The current inflation shock in South Sudan represents the reaction to consequences of the wars, conflicts and climate changes, leading to scrambling over scarce resources and eventually giving rise to inflation, particularly the foreign exchange and devaluation of the country currency ( SSP). Nevertheless, the Central Bank of South Sudan is taking measures to reduce the inflation rate and create value to the country’s currency. The measures included the re-organization of the foreign exchange market to tame the parallel market (black market) as potential risks for demands of foreign currencies are mitigated.

The war in Sudan also added challenges to flow of oil which is a main backbone of South Sudan’s economy, while influx of the returnees and refugees from Sudan create a gap in humanitarian support, in which the government of South Sudan has obligations to support the people displaced by the war in Sudan. This increases the spending of the government.

The government, under the wise leadership of H.E President Salva Kiir Mayardit, is exerting efforts to restore the economic strength of South Sudan through reforms in various sectors in the country and the realisation of peace and stability.

The decision of President Kiir to appoint Dr. Bak Barnaba Chol as a Minister of Finance and Planning was indeed a starting point of reform programmes in finance sector in the country.  Hence, reforms in economic sector are paramount to improving the economy and reduce the high cost of living .

Reforms are desired, yet they are processes revolving around many sectors for purposes of reshaping the economy and strengthening its position through stabilization of values, being domestic or foreign and creating an environment conducive to investment.

It is crucial that the critics understand that the works of reform are gradual, as they take many steps and time resources to come to light. Reforms are works of any responsible government to improve the economy, either by reducing spending by the government or expanding the sources of revenue to adequately fund the projects.

After having followed and critically analyzed the voices of critics of reforms initiated by Dr.Bak Barnaba, the National Minister of Finance and Planning, it is proven that the allegations levelled against the minister and his team are baseless and do not hold water to base a judgement. Such criticisms that do not provide room of solutions or alternatives for judgement or for decision-making are aimed at only tarnishing the government’s shape through character assassinations of people who are so dedicated and diligently serving the nation.

The character assassination projects orchestrated by sponsors who masked their faces in and outside the parameters of the government, intend to divert public attention on reform programmes to economic recovery. The also foreign- funded critics are rolling this character assassination projects to fit themselves as replacements through intensifying their lobbying games and falsifications, not as reformists, nor nationalists, but politicians who wish to fill their guts.  

Since his appointment, Dr Barnaba has been working tirelessly to create trusted public financial management. Bak made significant changes in the sector by introducing policies that eliminate rampant corruption exercises and malpractices that contravene public financial management. His efforts of reforms include the elimination of names of ghost workers which were spread in paysheets of civil servants, army and other organized forces. These people placed heavy load on the shoulders of the government forcing to pay for services not rendered. The biometric financial ID card will be issued to all the employees of the government to ease the payment procedures and create convenient public financial management across institutions. It is important to note that creating convenient payment system is healthier for the effective operation of the government.

Other reform programmes of Dr Bak in finance sector include, diversification of the economy through agricultural activities to lessen dependence on oil revenues. The efforts of Economist Dr. Bak Barnaba and his team in bringing about changes in the sector by engaging partners to aid in agricultural activities, are to ensure that the food security is a necessity to people of South Sudan. The plans of the government to expand agricultural activities will boost the economy and encourage investment opportunities in the country as well as job opportunities to benefit the young energies of South Sudanese. The plan to produce surplus food will decrease the imports of food commodities from neighbouring countries which are purchased using the currencies, this effort will create trust and value to our country’s currency.  

On the diversification of the economy, the minister is working hard on the non-oil revenue collections through institutions of the National Revenues Authority to have efficient mechanisms to boost the economy. The aim is to generate sufficient revenue for developmental projects, and operations such as payment of the salaries to government employees without delays.

In conclusion, these reform programmes are in the best interest of South Sudan to have sustainable economic strengths.

Let’s embrace the reforms initiated by Dr Bak and his team to regain South Sudan’s economic strength and move the country forward.