File: Minister of Information, Michael Makuei addresses media in Juba. [Photo by Eye Radio]JUBA – South Sudan information minister and government spokesman Michael Makuei Lueth has insisted, depute denial by President Salva Kiir, that the cabinet during its last week meeting had agreed to change the local currency saying closure of shops is one of the factors contributing to the ongoing depreciation of Pound urging traders to keep their shops open as government is planning to inject more dollars into the market.

Makuei’s comments came after President Salva Kiir’s office denied yesterday that change of currency was discussed during last week’s cabinet meeting after which Makuei said the government had decided to change the local currency as it is losing its value against foreign currencies.

The cabinet meeting today discussed the “current Economic Crisis in the Country with particular focus on the hyperinflation rate in the market due to the announcement made by the Minister of Information and Communication, Michael Makuei Lueth mentioning a change of country’s Currency after the meeting of the previous Friday Cabinet meeting,” the presidency said yesterday.

The change of currency “was brought up in the discussion of previous cabinet meetings as one of the proposed ideas to be subjected for study and discussions as one of the long-term economic measures but it was not agreed and passed by the council that time,” the presidency statement added.

However, in statements following  the emergency cabinet meeting in Juba on Wednesday, Makuei told reporters that the change of currency was in fact discussed last week and that the ministry of finance and the central bank were directed to study the plan.

“This was of course announced last week and after that announcement, the market almost went into a rampage. In my statement here (last Friday) I directed and requested those who are hoarding money to take it to the banks beforehand,” Makuei said.

“This automatically to others meant that the government must be having a malicious plan and it might decide to borrow out their money or as such it might decide to question those who will be depositing heavily. And as a result, those who hoarded the money decided to go to the market and buy the dollar at any rate. And as such, the dollar jumped that high and as of today (Wednesday) it is 75 SSP to US$ 1,” he added.

The senior government official appealed to the traders to reopen their shops, saying closure of shops is contributing to the depreciation of pound and the confusion created by his last week announcement of a government plan to change currency.

“After thorough deliberations, the cabinet decided to appeal to those business people and those traders who have closed their shops, to open them to the public,” Michael Makuei said.

“All those who have closed their shops are in a way adding more to what is already there. And as a result, all the traders are expected to open up their shops and keep on selling to the customers. This is an appeal to them,” he added.

Makuei also said other factors contributing to the dramatic rise in dollar’s price include “those who are hoarding the money and those who are selling in their shops. Those who are selling in their shops, as soon as the dollar increases by one pound, add a pound to the price of their goods and at the end of the day it is the consumer who becomes a victim.”

He said his trade and industry counterpart will be meeting with all the business communities that are operating in South Sudan, “While their shops are open, if they have any grievances, they will discuss these issues with the trade minister.”