South Sudan Central Bank officials on Wednesday reversed a decision to devalue the country's currency after lawmakers complained that the move had caused prices to spike and put many goods out of the reach of ordinary citizens.
“It is very clear that the decision by the Central Bank Governor has created a lot of problems to the whole country because the prices of goods and services will rise up while our salaries remain the same," Rec Muol Tang, a member of parliament said.
"We have already seen the impact of this decision yesterday: all the petrol stations closed and the price of the dollar shot up to 5.0 South Sudanese Pounds," he said.
Lawmaker Paul Mayom Akec said the central bank's move had resulted in "several children and mothers going hungry... they went to bed hungry. These families could not afford buying food yesterday.”
The Central Bank announced late Monday that it was devaluing the South Sudanese pound by 34 percent, from 2.95 pounds to the dollar to 4.5 to the dollar. The official reason given for the devauation was to reduce volatile pricing, curb the country's black market and encourage foreign investment.
Several lawmakers said they only found out about the devaluation from media reports. As soon as they did, they called on Central Bank Governor Kornelio Koriom Mayiek and Finance Minister Aggrey Sabuni Tisa to appear before Parliament to explain the move.
Sabuni did not appear because he is currently on a business trip to Geneva, but the bank's governor did and was lambasted by lawmakers.
Sabuni was out of the country and was unable to attend the hearing, where speaker after speaker slammed the move to devalue the currency.
After heated exchanges on the floor, lawmakers unanimously passed a motion ordering the central bank to immediately reverse its decision.
Koriom said he will abide by the will of the National Assembly.
“We have agreed in the Assembly, and the Assembly directed, that the reforms which we declared on the 11th of November are canceled and revoked as from today. This is the will of the people," he said.
"The members of the Assembly have the power in this country. Whatever
they have declared is what is going to go, and we are going to implement it immediately.”
The South Sudanese pound was trading at six to the dollar on the black market on Wednesday, before Parliament ordered the devaluation to be reversed, and the few petrol stations that had fuel were selling it for 10 pounds per liter, compared to six pounds a liter earlier this week.
Andrew Green contributed to this report.