The government of South Sudan is already printing a new currency ahead of the region’s official declaration of independence in July.
South Sudan’s finance and economic planning minister, David Deng Athorbei told reporters in Juba that the new currency is being printed in Europe, by a company he wouldn’t name, and will be held by the printer until July 9th, the day the south’s independence is expected to be declared.
“We are printing a new currency but we are still maintaining some secrecy because we are not yet an independent state,” Athorbei said during the government’s weekly press briefing on Tuesday.
During post-referendum talks in Addis Ababa early this month, delegates from the north’s ruling party, the NCP and the south’s ruling party, the SPLM, agreed that South Sudan will have a its own new currency after independence.
Athorbei said his ministry had signed a contract with a European company that will print the currency adding, “They will release the currency to us on one condition that by the time we are recognized as an independent state by either the United States or Great Britain, then they will release the currency.”
He said the government of South Sudan wanted to have the new currency ready for circulation, just in case the government in the north decides to issue a new currency for the north on the day the south officially secedes.
“We could have waited until our independence and come out openly but that will delay our currency because we do not know, maybe on the 9th the north may issue a new currency,” Athorbei explained.
The issuance of a new currency by the north would tremendously disrupt the south’s economy, which is intertwined with that of the north.
The finance minister described the features of the currency being printed, which he said will be called the South Sudanese pound.
“The design of the currency is this way; on one face is the face of Dr. John [Garang]. On the other face on many different denominations, is the face of various issues covering our culture, mainly our heritage, our wealth, oil wealth, the Nile, our rapids like the Fulla Rapids, and animals and so on and so forth,” he described.
Finance officials in north Sudan had earlier hinted they would discontinue the use of the Sudanese Pound after the south officially becomes independent and reintroduce the old currency, the Sudanese Dinar.
Analysts estimate the reintroduction of the Pound in 2007 cost Sudan around a 150 million US Dollars, an expense they say the north may not be able to afford given its current economic crisis.
The former governor of Sudan’s Central Bank, Sabir Mohamed al-Aassan, said before leaving office that South Sudan had refused to heed to advice by experts to form a monetary union with the north.
North Sudan has agreed to retrieve any quantity of Sudanese pounds circulating in the south once the latter introduces its own currency.
Financial experts estimate that only 10 percent of Sudan’s money currently circulates in the south.