South Sudan Presidency Cites Price Spike for Central Bank Purge

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(Bloomberg) -- South Sudanese President Salva Kiir fired the central bank’s governor after he failed to rein in consumer prices that almost tripled last year, the presidency said.

Kiir is struggling to stabilize an economy that has contracted for the past three years after a civil war broke out in 2013 and as slumping oil prices crimped the government’s main source of revenue. Inflation is forecast to more than double this year and next, according to the International Monetary Fund.

On Thursday, the president appointed Dier Tong Ngor, a former deputy governor at the bank, to replace Othom Rago Ajak as governor of the Bank of South Sudan and named Albino Dak Othow as his deputy.

“This is a prerogative of the president to change whoever he wants, and it was in line with the rise of high inflation and the dollar being bought with much more of the local currency,” Kiir’s spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, said by phone Friday from the capital, Juba. The new governors promised they would ensure they “satisfy the needs of the people,” he said.

The South Sudanese pound has fallen 50 percent to about 300 per dollar on the streets of Juba, compared with about 150 when Ajak was appointed in January 2017, according to money changers.

“I have been briefed this morning by the president and I am ready for the challenge,” Ngor said by phone, declining to comment further.

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