By James Okuk, PhD
December 24, 2015 (SSNA) — Getting water and food, sleeping in peace at homes without fear of being harmed, and celebrating seasonal festivals for all citizens should have been the most immediate responsibility of the Government of South Sudan (GRSS) like any other normal governments in the world. Alas! This is happening only to a very limited number of isolated privileged few citizens these days.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army – In Opposition (SPLM-IO) advance delegation of peace have already arrived in Juba with accommodation and feeding in the best five star hotels while the common citizens are moaning economically at the suburbs and countryside. Though their repatriation and return to Juba is good news to peace-loving citizens and international friends, still the recently prescribed disastrous capitalist economic shock by the Governor of Bank of South Sudan (BoSS) and Minister of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) is opening another front of terrible poverty war.
What is the use of having dollars available in commercial banks and fuel stations if majority of the made-to-suffer poor South Sudanese cannot afford sufficient pounds (SSP) for a minimum purchasing power?
What is the utility of ‘free float’ or even call it ‘managed float’ if this is being mismanaged in the negative expend of the common citizens?
Where in the world a capital city can be proud to call itself a human habitat without available cheap drinking and bathing water for all the residents?
If the staggering abnormal economy of the Republic of South Sudan is still infected by Oil’s Dutch Disease, and worst by kleptocratic war situation, what a hell on earth have those who came up with ‘floating policy’ are bringing upon the common poor citizens?
Why would the international experts of well-established laissez-faire economic institutions and their South Sudanese stooges want to unethically experiment irrelevant economics theories on dear poor lives of already downtrodden citizens of the Child Republic of South Sudan?
If the BoSS and MoFED have secretly been suspected as the main suppliers of dollars to Atuots and few other paralleled hard currency black marketers (what President Kiir described as ‘illiterate shabby men with expensive new brand dollars under umbrellas in Juba and Custom markets’), will these GRSS’ financial institutions be free and credible this time round to act in favor of the most affected low-income citizens?
Despite the fact that the poor citizens have accepted to tolerate the situation of celebrating 2015 Christmas without new shoes, cloths, hair styles and cuts, cakes, sweets, local groundnuts, soft juices, hard drinks and delicious foods, I don’t think they will continue to afford a welcome of the New Year 2016 with the current demise of hard currency floating policy!
It is becoming clearer that the current messed-up financial economy of South Sudan is based on nothing dignified but irrelevant advanced laissez-fare policies akin to the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) that was intended to neo-colonize Africa and the rest of least developed countries on deceptive and vicious traps of the so-called ’Economic Growth’.
Like what the common citizens of the SAPs affected African, Latin America and Asian countries faced in 1970s and 1980s, the ordinary citizens of South Sudan are already paying the prize dearly while we continue encountering contradicting and confusing messages (as usual) from our old SPLM ruling party’s economists and their cunning international advisors.
I doubt whether the GRSS top decision-makers have been closely attached to the vulnerable disadvantaged poor so that they could know where and how they get charcoal, firewood and cooking dry grass!
I doubt whether these heartless decision-makers understand where water is fetched from for serving many residences in Juba were it not for the committed Eritrean truck drivers but who are now pushed by the hiked crazy fuel and dollar crises to charge the poor citizens accordingly and un-affordably!
I doubt whether these elites comprehend that those who used to sell Cleto’s 1.5 liter fuel plastic containers are poor women, neglected children, unemployed youth, and disabled elderly citizens who made some ends meet for temporary economic Intensive Care Units (ICUs) at the end of the bad days before things could get better after war! The litany of agony is longer.
That is why the poor citizens are now left with nothing much to console them at this tough of the toughest times but a honest plea to JMEC’s Chairman, H.E. Fesus Gontebanye Mogae, and GSS President, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, to intervene quickly by using their joint veto powers to avert the on-going genocidal economic wrath and red pangs of poverty.
We are lucky to have with us an experienced people-oriented developmental economist and sagacious hard-working statesman in the person of Former Botswana President, who shall soon visit the other affected states of South Sudan to see the full image of the painfully regrettable level of SPLM/A’s made economic hazards and destructions in the new country.
If the disastrous hard currency floating policy cannot be canceled now, let Presidents Mogae and Kiir order serious and urgent subsidizing measures to be implemented immediately, particularly in the basic strategic economic sectors of fuel, water, food, transport, communication and pharmaceuticals. Prices of luxurious and prestigious items could be left to be determined by the floating markets reaction and bargain.
Friedman’s economic approach (i.e., controlling the supply of money and allowing the free market to fix itself) and Chicago Boys’ ‘Shock Doctrine’ is not a proper ‘therapy’ for the war affected South Sudan. It increases the vulnerability agony of the working-poor, leave alone the lazy-poor.
Also the Keynesian economic therapy is not totally relevant for unmodified adoption in South Sudan because productivity of goods and services is still a big problem due to the SPLM/A’s war legacy and perpetual politically motivated destabilization.
Depending on bad wills of reactive anarchical markets in South Sudan is a lethality prescription. It has already shown its counter-productivity in the last very few days. The Republic of South Sudan needs controlled and subsidized markets now, perhaps, until such a time when it has reached a status of adulthood where it could be economically self-reliant with productive sufficiency and surplus.
Playing the dirty politicized economic game by way of gerontocratic kleptocracy of financial anarchy without fixed principles (except anarchy itself) is too harmfully bad for the poverty-ridden South Sudan.
A utilitarian economic growth should be a function of a holistic people’s development and not mere numeric growth of calculated Gross National Income (GNI) without fair distributive and equal opportunity justice.
Thus, let Chairman Mogae and President Kiir come to the most urgent rescue of the poor citizens of the naturally resource-rich Republic of South Sudan. It is good for them to have tamed the politico-military anarchists by awarding them with power privileges in accordance with the provisions of the August 2015 Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS).
Nonetheless, they should do this simultaneously with taming of heartless economic (particularly financial) anarchists of South Sudan too. Let them use their legitimate peace powers to prescribe the most needed basic subsidies now before it is too late for the ordinary citizens to keep hanging on the thin thread of difficult livelihood these days. Waiting for a utopian prosperous future in the land of the ‘dead’ is a meaningless posterity. Lives of the majority of the citizens of South Sudan should be saved first from the current economic woes for good future promises to make sense later!
No best wishes for a Happy Christmas 2015 and Prosperous New Year 2016 till the current GRSS created invective financial economics is averted finally through pro-poor subsidy policy that should coexist with the pro-rich hard currency floating policy rate.
Dr. James Okuk is a lecturer of politics reachable at email@example.com.