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Mixed Reception of Juba’s New Currency

Business leaders in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, say the government’s new rule ordering all transactions be conducted in South Sudanese pounds rather than U.S. dollars puts their businesses at risk of going under — while others say it’s a good idea. Last week, Information Minister Michael Makuei told reporters the government adopted 34 measures recommended by a committee appointed by President Salva Kiir a month ago to address the country’s economic crisis. One of the measures would require that business transactions are conducted in the local currency, according to Makuei. Lisok Emmanuel, managing director of the Juba-based Vast Printing Company, said it’s not the first time the government issued a sweeping currency order. While he agrees with the order, Emmanuel noted the change will limit the ability of some business owners to import goods because it restricts access to hard currency, something he said is already in short supply in Juba.  If the government does not enact policies to ensure a sufficient supply of dollars, Emmanuel said businesses like his could fail. The head of the one of the biggest companies involved in South Sudan’s oil sector also embraced the government’s new rule. Robert Mbesa, chief executive officer of Trinity Energy, told South Sudan in Focus that doing business using local currency is a global practice which strengthens a country’s economy, but he also advised the government to enact policies that boost local production.