South Sudan Parliament Passes Currency Name Change and Financial Reforms in Landmark Legislation
In a significant legislative development today, the National Parliament of South Sudan has approved the Amendment Bill of 2023 to the Bank of South Sudan Act 2011. This amendment carries profound implications, as it introduces a notable change to the country’s currency unit, transforming it from the ‘South Sudanese Pound’ to the ‘South Sudan Pound.’
Moreover, the Parliament has also granted its assent to the Banking and Other Financial Institutions Amendment Bills of 2023, reflecting a comprehensive effort to align the financial sector with the 2018 peace accord and Article 182 of the transitional constitution.
Underpinning these legislative changes is the continued existence of the Central Bank, officially referred to as the Bank of South Sudan. This institution is mandated to deliver essential banking services in strict accordance with the constitution and prevailing laws while maintaining its status as an independent corporate legal entity.
Changkuoth Bishock, the Chairperson of the Standing Specialized Committee on Finance and Economic Planning, elucidated the modifications within the amended act before the august assembly. He emphasized, “We have incorporated all the amendments into this document. During the second reading, we disseminated this document to all members, encompassing the deleted sections and every adjustment, now encapsulated within this document.”
Bishock continued, “In Section 46, we have consistently replaced ‘Sudanese’ with ‘Sudan’ throughout the bill, signifying that the currency shall be known as the South Sudan Pound, as opposed to the South Sudanese Pound.”
However, lawmaker Charles Majak voiced his opposition to these alterations, contending that the wealth of South Sudan should not be attributed to the country itself, but rather to its people. He maintained that the currency should have retained the label of South Sudanese Pound. Majak argued, “Why have you replaced ‘Sudanese’ with ‘Sudan,’ which implies South Sudan? South Sudan does not possess these resources. It is the people who possess these resources, residing within the borders of a nation known as South Sudan.”
He concluded, “The original nomenclature is maintained here. My plea, after presenting my rationale, is for the chair to elucidate and persuade the assembly, and myself, as to why ‘Sudanese’ was removed.”
In contrast, Bank of South Sudan Deputy Governor Adis-Ababa Othou defended the currency name change by drawing parallels with regional practices. He stated, “The convention in the region for currency nomenclature is to associate it directly with the country. For instance, in Kenya, the currency unit is known as the Kenyan shilling, not Kenyan shillings. Similarly, we are transitioning from the South Sudanese Pound to the South Sudan Pound.”
Financial reforms were not the only items on the legislative agenda. The roadmap for the implementation of Chapter Four of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) outlined several crucial tasks for the transitional parliament and government.
The Presidency is tasked with ensuring the statutory and supervisory autonomy of the Bank of South Sudan, including the appointment of its leadership and board members. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance and Planning has been entrusted with the responsibility of reviewing and executing the strategic economic development roadmap.
Furthermore, the roadmap calls for the Presidency to nominate the head of the Anti-corruption Commission, subject to legislative approval, though it remains uncertain whether this commission has been reconstituted, given the ongoing parliamentary recess.
Other entities, such as the NCAC, R-TGoNU, and R-TNLA, are also tasked with reviewing the National Audit Chamber Act of 2011 and safeguarding its independence. Ministries related to petroleum, audit, and public service, along with the Bank of South Sudan, are directed to scrutinize and document all loans and contracts secured against oil.
In the realm of employment within the oil sector, various ministries, including Petroleum and Public Service, in collaboration with R-TGoNU, are required to undertake a comprehensive review. Additionally, the Ministry of Finance and Planning, the Ministry of Petroleum, and the Anti-corruption Commission are entrusted with ensuring the judicious management of the oil stabilization account and the future generations’ fund, aligning with the revised Public Finance Management and Accountability Act.
Lastly, the roadmap emphasizes community involvement in decision-making processes regarding contract awards and the utilization of natural resources. The Audit Chamber, R-TGoNU, and R-TNLA are assigned the critical duty of reviewing and auditing the allocation and transfer of the 2% and 3% funds designated for oil-producing states and communities since 2011.
These legislative changes and strategic imperatives represent a significant step forward in South Sudan’s journey towards financial stability, transparency, and equitable resource management.