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South Sudan Government Plans to Ban Currency Black Market

A South Sudanese man poses with a fistful of South Sudanese Pounds. A high-level minister says the government is planning to ban unofficial trading in U.S. dollars.

South Sudan's govenrment plans to ban unofficial foreign currency trading amid concerns about the South Sudanese Pound's strength in relation to the U.S. dollar, Cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elia Lomuro said Friday.

"We have decided that we are going to close down all the black markets," Lomuro told reporters.

"You will not see any dollars being sold on the streets. We will only support dollars to be obtained from foreign exchange bureaus and from commercial banks," he said.

Lomuro warned anyone who buys and sells dollars on the parallel market that they "will be brought to book."

The official exchange rate for the South Sudan Pound is 3.16 to the U.S. dollar, but, on the black market, one dollar buys 4.8 Pounds.

All imports to South Sudan are paid for in dollars and traders and ordinary citizens have compalined in the past that the unfavorable exchange rate for the dollar makes the cost of importing goods very expensive.

Last year, the Central Bank announced it had devalued the South Sudan Pound to bring it into line with the black market exchange rate. But the National Assembly forced the Central Bank to reverse the move, saying it would lead to a rapid rise in commodity prices that would hurt citizens.

Lomuro said that if any similar moves are planned, the government will consult with parliament first.