By Deng Machol
Juba – The Bank of South Sudan has announced plans to buy crude gold from local miners in a bid to boost the country’s economy after six years of conflict.
Central Bank Governor Jamal Abdalla Wani told reporters in Juba on Tuesday that the government has approved $4 million, to build its mineral stockpile.
“The president never disappointed us, he requested the money to be released from the ministry of finance,” Juma Abdallah Wani told SSBC on Tuesday.
Wani also revealed that the board of the bank also approved an additional $1.5 million to acquire crude gold.
The gold, according to the bank’s boss, will be acquired from local miners in the country. It shall then be refined and stored within the bank.
“With that crude gold, if we have enough of it, then we can go to the next step of refining it. That means we have to get pure gold with us in the bank,” said Wani.
Eastern Equatoria is one of the regions in the country that contains some of the most important and best-known sites for artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
However, the 2012 Mining Act criminalizes black market gold sales but despite this legal framework, South Sudan’s gold remains ungoverned and poorly regulated.
Wani says the gold will be bought from local miners. “We need to attract them so that we can buy more gold,” he said.
The central bank governor further said the institution’s plan came after prices of crude oil in the international market dropped, besides the negative impact of the novel coronavirus.
South Sudan is currently produces about 175,000 barrels per day, 40 percent of which goes to cover operating costs, and partners such as China’s CNPC and Malaysia’s Petronas take 20 percent of it.
Income from crude oil accounts for 98 percent of South Sudan’s budget.
Wani however said they also have a plan to support agricultural projects, especially the production of Gum Arabic in the country.
“This will strengthen the local currency against the US dollar and also enable us to obtain loans,” he said.
South Sudan government have been relying heavily on the oil sector to fund its budget, including other projects while discarding other vibrant sectors such as agriculture, mining and tourism to boost the country’s economy.
Report by the US-based Sentry group in March said the country’s gold mining sector is riddled with corruption that involving President Salva Kiir’s relatives, military leaders, and other senior officials in South Sudan.
South Sudan, marks ninth anniversary of her independence on Thursday, July 9, 2020, just emerged from the six year of conflict, which killed nearly 400,000 people and uprooted four million people from their homes, before ruined the country’s economy.
South Sudan’s rival leaders officially started the process of forming a transitional coalition government in late February after it was postponed twice, but the security arrangements or unification of forces remained so challenges, which remains thought-provoking.