SPLM-IO official Aggrey Idri

A senior official of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) has decried the current economic situation in South Sudan, saying there was need to review the salaries of civil servants.

Aggrey Idri, deputy chairperson of the national committee for economic affairs and resources mobilization in the SPLM-IO under the leadership of the first vice president designate, Riek Machar, said the current economic situation in the young country has reduced even the employees to ‘beggars’.

He said the minimum salary for a civil servant in the year 2005 when a semi-autonomous government in South Sudan was established was put at 100 United States (US) dollars, which was by then equivalent to 200 Sudanese dinars, and slightly raised to 300 South Sudanese pounds (SSP).

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Many South Sudanese have their families living abroad and children going to foreign schools which require buying dollars to send to their families. A 300SSP salary per a month would only buy seven ($7) in the black market.

Prices of essential basic commodities have also more than quadrupled in the country.

Idri further argued that as the exchange rate between the dollar and the South Sudanese pounds has now reached 4000SSP per $100, while the minimum wage has remained the same, there was need to review the status quo.

“Can anybody disagree that we shouldn’t have a thorough review on this as our employees are virtually reduced to beggars,” Idri said in his comments seen by Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

He added that the opposition faction in response to the situation initiated the need to establish a commission to review the remuneration of the civil servants throughout the country.

“During the peace talks we (SPLM/IO) have strongly urged for the establishment of Salaries and Remuneration Commission which is now included in the CPA [Compromise Peace Agreement] and among institutions to be established immediately with the formation of TGoNU [Transitional Government of National Unity],” he said.

As the official exchange rate is currently $1 against 30SSP, the ratio in the black market is $1 to 40SSP, making a minimum wage of 300SSP for a civil servant equivalent to only about $10 a month.

The economy of the war-ravaged country is at the verge of collapse with international financial institutions warning that unless a transitional government of national unity is formed soon to attract foreign assistance to inject hundreds of millions of dollars into South Sudan’s economy, there is possibility that it will collapse soon.

The region has been dependent solely on the oil revenues which makes 98% of its overall budget. However, due to the fall of oil production in South Sudan, coupled with fall of oil prices worldwide, the situation has had measure negative impact on the country.