Why doing nothing not an option: Open letter to Minister of finance & economic planning

BY: Agok Takpiny, Australia (Melbourne), JUN/21/2016, SSN;

The financial crisis is getting deeper by the day. The judiciary and Universities lecturers are on strike because they have not received their salaries for months. The army, the police and other government employees are doing it tough. Food prices in the market are almost out of reach of everyone; this is because the country’s currency (SOUTH Sudan pound or SSP) has lost nearly sixty percent (61%) of its value against the US dollar.

Currently, one dollar ($1) is equal to 51 SSP. As South Sudan is 100% dependent on imported goods, traders need dollars to go overseas to buy goods. Typically, merchants purchase good at one price and then sell the good for a higher price.

Markup pricing is a cost of goods plus desired profit. By having the markup on products, a trader can earn profits. If the importer sells the goods for what they cost, then he or she will not make a profit, the selling price would just match expenses, thereby not earning any profit.

So how do the traders do it to ensure that they get their benefits? Well, the traders monitor the exchange rate of the SSP against the dollar in the black market. Traders don’t rely on the official rate simply because it is only on the black market the dollars are available.

So, if the exchange rate in the black market goes up in the afternoon, the traders would automatically increase the prices of the goods to reflect that. Hence, the prices of goods in the country become notoriously unstable; this is the core issue that causes the current economic free fall.

Therefore, to rescue the economy from total collapse, the government will need to find ways to bring in more dollars and find it fast, not an easy task. However, if there is courage to make tough decisions, it can surely be done.

Dear Hon. Deng Athorbei, as a minister of finance and economic planning, it is 100% your responsibility to advise the president and the entire government about what needs to be done to stabilise the economy. I do not believe that the president is in your way in applying much needed economic reforms.

Minister, your creditability and legacy are on the line here, people are starving in most parts of the country including in Juba. Show the country what you are capable of doing. And if the president refuses to take up your plan, you can explain it to the citizens and then resign in a dignified way.

What you need to do is to cut government spending by half. The following are my suggestions about areas that the government can do without but save the government a significant chunk of money:

1. Reduce the number of South Sudan embassies from current 24 to just 13. Close down eleven (11). As a finance minister, you and your team will need to explain to the cabinet in details how much the government would save by closing down 11 embassies. If we have all the money in the world, we could have an embassy in a very country. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough money to be able to sustain a huge number of embassies around the world.

Therefore, the thirteen diplomatic posts I suggest are the vital ones for us. Here are the thirteen countries which are strategically important to South Sudan: Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, Israel, USA, UK, Norway, Belgium, Russia, and China.

2. Amalgamate ministries from 30 to just 12. Minister, to achieves this, your argument would have to be stunningly convincing. The opposition would need to be involved in reaching the consensus. Yes, there is a fear or belief that the current thirty (30) ministries were created merely to accommodate everyone. People think that if 18 ministers or whatever number loses their jobs, they would immediately take up arms and rebel. However, there is a way to tackle it, the 18 ministers who would lose their jobs would still be receiving their ministerial salaries (this would silence them).

The government would save a lot of money here. The running cost of 18 ministries and allowances for the ministers is bigger than the officials salaries. All the other junior staffs in those 18 departments should be laid off; this would reduce the government workforce significantly which would save the government money.

Here are the eleven (11) ministries which their services are of immediate need: Health, Education, Finance, Petroleum, Justice, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Transport, Interior, Ministry of Security in the office of the president, and Information.

3. Cease all unnecessary overseas travel by government employees. At the moment, even those who should still be on a graduate program (gaining work experience under supervision), are using government money to travel in first class to none essential workshops abroad. These workshops are not helping the country in one way or another; they are a total waste of money.

Minister, at times like this, luxury is hugely unaffordable, this means that only the president and his two Vice Presidents should use the first class if at all there is a need for them to go overseas.

The multiple embarrassing thefts in the office of the president and the police HQ were unacceptable. Therefore, it is time to introduce strict control measures in all government transactions. While the President should be banned from writing cheques that would be cashed out at the central bank, the amount of money kept in any office including that of a president should not be more than the equivalent of $10,000.

Minister, all the government employees including the army and police, should be head-counted; this would unearth ghost employees in the system. It is a good thing to be generous when you can afford to do so. However, our current situation does not allow, that; hence, releasing an employee with his or her salary for a four year study is not sustainable. All forms of government sponsorship need to cease.

Furthermore, Tax collection needs a review. A sound taxation system would generate considerable revenue for the government. Therefore, an extensively qualified tax commissioner is needed. And he or she must be given full powers to pursue tax evaders in the courts of law. End

20 Comments

  1. Wad Nyatong says:

    You are credited for the article, however I see no point you are silent about the 19 Presidential Advisors, the 72 State Governors and their deputies , more than 250 state ministers and more than 900 State MPs, are all those not included in the government expenditure????????????….

    • info@southsudannation says:

      Wad Nyatong,
      You’re absolutely right, the government is too big to be sustainable financially.
      South Sudan has NOW totally collapsed, the economy is totally collapsed, the nation’s moral fabric is gone.
      The only remedy: Let’s immediately surrender our national sovereignty to the UN for rescue!!!!!
      Editor

    • Agok says:

      I decried the appointment of 19 advisors on my facebook page when they were announced; so I thought it would be a repetition that would turn off my audience. But you are absolutely right, the 19 advisors are a waste of public money, we don’t need them. However, as for the state governors and those after them, to me, that is unrealistic at this point in time. therefore, I decided to go with the more realistic targets that the government can achieve.

  2. False Millionaire says:

    Mr Agok,
    It’s a pleasure to see u surfacing again.
    But did u assert,”resue the economy from total collapse”?
    Well brother u are a bit too far away from home and that’s why u don’t have a clue of the painful reality.
    Sorry it has collapsed.
    I had franck discussions with age mate friends in Bahar el Ghazal,equatoria and upper nile not so long time ago.
    All confirm the scenario of collapse and prefer to suggest american/british take over.But if they support Kiir,it’s only to fight the satan named Riek Machar.

    • GatCharwearbol says:

      False Millionaire,

      Don’t jump the gun yet. Until it is confirm by Kiir and Ateny, the country still is functioning as normal. Be patience; in no time, Kiir and cohorts will admit it. What will be their resolution, I do not know. Disintegration might be just the ticket. Once we cross that bridge, whoever would like to roll his piece of land and transport it to UGANDA since UPDF is a friend indeed to some of us, will pack his belongings and find a rocky mountain to spread it out on. I’m sure my good friend LGG will be the first to roll his piece of land and move proudly to UGANDA mountain’s top. My friend Boldit will remain in USA for good. I don’t know where my cousin, FM will retire to. Possibly to UGANDA as well.

      • Elhag Paul says:

        Dear Gat
        Where is Lukudu Gatkouth Garang? I hope I have read you correctly that LGG is the person I am asking. I have not heard about for over a year. Grateful to be enlightened.

      • Bol says:

        Gat..bol,
        Ha Ha…… Why do you have to tease me even when I am asleep? Seriously, the collapse of RSS is real. Our leadership bears the blame starting from disappearance of $60M USD which was meant for establishment of Civil Admin, selection of President Kiir to replace Dr Garang, dislike of Dr Reik among SPLM/A elites, Dr Reik inability to lead, etc….It all boils down to the point where disintegrations becomes almost inevitable. I am not retiring in USA nor am I rolling my piece of land to Uganda…It’s too far to reach. I will build an Israeli wall like around my land to protect my cattle from being stolen, if peace with my cousins didn’t work.

      • Deng Monymor says:

        Cousin GatCharwearbol,

        The Collapse of South Sudan is not going to be like your waa-ing into the war of 2013, where most of your kinds thought that having 75% of national army as well as 93% in Greater Upper Nile alone from your ethnic group would bring you to J1 in Ngundeng songs. If you failed the lesson of these percentages, please repeat the course. The way things are going looks like the history of self-fooling is repeating itself, where conclusion is reached through wrong analyzes. Indeed, it is true that everything is not doing well right now but collapsing is not one of its Eventualities.
        This kind of wishing is not yours alone. It is the one you and CIA/British are waiting for, after having gotten rid of Dr. John with the hope that they would find someone through whom they can loot our resources. As their analyzes caused them wrong conclusion, so is your wishing for collapse. Nevertheless, keep dancing around this day dreaming experiment for it prevents, for awhile, Toria from becoming MTN hunter very soon because this is the only activity that would save him from heart attack if things don’t collapse as his wishing is concerned. Delay him, please! Otherwise, no collapsing of this nation is going to happen. Believe me.

        Cousin, if “disintegration might be just the ticket,” it would not be good for you and me because I don’t think we will part each other. We are in shit together and we will be no matter. Always remember this. I will always be fighting you to prevent you from stealing my cattle while you will be fighting me for preventing you from this lucrative business of yours.

  3. Dear Editor:

    Who are the UN??!! There are people in the countries in the organization so called United Nations(UN) which based in the United States of America in the state of New York. They are true vultures!! If you want United Nations to take the country South Sudan government, it will never and ever do any good at all in front of God! The UN will put a big MESS!!!! Believe me! I knew very well western countries double standard politics in the west!

    Question: Why the ordinary people are famish to death in the South Sudan in the country???? They should cultivate in the fields like in the way of life they had been born with accordingly! Taking the way of the countries in the west,it will hurt people terribly! People in the west,they live on money! But they live are not living on money for free never! They work in the factories,in the companies, in the industries, for the wealthies people! They are well adapted to the capitalism culture in the west who are living on paying bills such as utlitity bills, electrical bills,house rents bill! and many more as well! Let leaders in the countries to encourages people to cultivate crops!

    MO.USA

  4. Elhag Paul says:

    To make a real effect in the economy there needs to be true reform in the ministry of defence. It is absurd that the defence department is given 40 percent of the budget. This is not only nonsense but utter madness. South Sudan does not need to spend that amount on unproductive department responsible for malaise of the country. The army needs to be reduced to less than fifty thousand personnel with highly educated and highly trained professionals officersship. Over 700 of the current generals need to be retired immediately. Most of the advanced countries spend around two to three percent of their budget on defence, why should South Sudan spend almost half of the budget on unproductive sector?
    The author of this article simply is biased to ignore this pertinent issue in his analysis because maybe it touches their militia masquerading as national army. In a nutshell South Sudan needs a total rethink people not influenced by the SPLM/A nonsense.

    • Agok Takpiny says:

      This is pathetic of you Elhag Paul; you have to know the person first before accusing him of biases. I live in Melbourne in Australia; I have been here since September 2003, I am working in a well-paid job. No uncle got for me this job; I got it through my qualification. I have no reason to be a part of your so call “militia”. Yes, I am a Dinka, is that a significant reason enough to branded me as part of “militia”? I have heard of Arrow Boys militia in Yambio, are you a part of that militia since you are from Greater Equatoria? When can we have an intellectual debate that is free from tribal profiling? Yes, I agree with you that the defense spending needs to scale back to save some money for other projects, and if I left it out like I did, it doesn’t mean that I am somehow benefiting from it. I am offended by your comment, and if that unwarranted attack continues, I may just have to quit sharing my opinions here.I love it when someone challenged my intellectual capacity than label me as part of something that I am not.

      • Bol says:

        Agok Takpiny,
        Public debate in RSS is more about tribal agendas disguised in the form of opinions and as such, it may not be a good idea to stop sharing your thoughts because someone had offended you during the course of debate. You got the option of elaborating your point of view, pay them back same currency or cocktail of both. Recoiling would generate more ridicule notions. In this particular commentator’s world and his associates every single Dinka, dead, living or would be born are all locked in the sealed box of bad guys, either because they have ruined the Country or they have failed to stop their Dinka fellows from ruining the Country! It is guilt inherited by birth! Please don’t give in.

  5. Deng Deng says:

    Fighting a guerilla war and winning is one thing, but running a government needs completely different sets of skills which is completely missing here So long the current South Sudanese leadership are in driving seat, the future of South Sudan and her people are doomed!

  6. Toria says:

    Ha ha ha ha hah
    No independence celebrations? I think it’s now too late for UN to revive the collapsed countries like SS.
    https://africanspress.org/2016/06/18/breaking-news-7-dinkas-thieves-was-caught-carying-ssp-224500/

  7. Toria says:

    this is the intended site for the previous comment
    http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article59399

  8. Toria says:

    More economic woes, oh dear. What else is left than declare fragmentation of the country into the original 3 regions. Let everyone take care of their own villages and region.
    http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article59388

    • Eastern says:

      Toria,

      Perhaps a referendum for “leave” and “stay” for the 3 regions. The latest victim of Dinkocracy is Elias Waya from the Greater Bahr el Ghazal.

      Where’s is Dr Machar and where’s is the supposedly “powerful” Festus Mogae in all this mix? Why should cattle amp management style be left to operate unabated?

  9. Walter deng says:

    No talk of 28 States reinduction?

  10. False Millionaire says:

    Mr Gatcharwearbol,
    But my homeland isn’t Juba since time immemorable.There I will rear cattle,farm,fish,hunt crocos,hippos and fight and castrate crazy nuers who may be too stupid to disturb.
    U just need to keep to urbanne realities becouse what u desperately need is power.That’s exactly what I don’t have my friend.So take your cross and go get it from Kiir in Juba.Hopefully it won’t cost u a tooth.Good luck!!!

  11. False Millionaire says:

    Mr Agok,
    I have a habit of liking exchanging with u.If I have tackled u hard in reaction to your article,it’s becouse I know what’s happening in RSS and that out of conviction,I found u out of the mark.It means a shadowy zone getting clear for a way forward and I was hoping to see u again in another brilliant opportunity.But surprise,u wrote to Alhag Paul threatening to quit the forum,which school of life did u learn that attitude from?Are u sure that wasn’t Alhag’s objective to push u out from the forum and u volurnteer to go without any counter argument to the point where Alhag showed no relevance to your article?
    For your information,we had fellow red army comrades who lacked determination in the struggle in the face of hell fire and that’s why they aren’t alive among us today.Progress and success is a game of ideas and your contributions aren’t of any less value to the the future of a would prosperous peaceful RSS even in a distant way.Stop forwarding your contributions and u will have opened the vacum to be filt with MTN hunting songs from Alhag and his likes.Is that what the masses of your Yerol homeland expecting of u?

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