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South Sudan Releases Its New Currency to Banks in Capital

Newly independent South Sudan released its own currency today to banks in the capital, Juba, said Aggrey Tisa, undersecretary for planning in the Ministry of Finance.

It may take as long as two months before the South Sudan pound replaces the old currency the nation shared with Sudan before it gained independence on July 9, Tisa said in an interview. Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir announced on July 12 that his government decided also to print a new currency.

“Now that they are releasing their new currency, the north will have nothing to do with” the old pounds, Tisa said. “We have storage problems, so either they will have to be burned or we will just collect them and stamp them as worthless.”

Initially, the South Sudan pound will be equal in value to the Sudanese pound, central bank president Elijah Malok told reporters on July 12 in Juba. The Sudanese pound currently trades at about 2.67 to the dollar, according to the Central Bank of Sudan, while on the parallel market it sold at about 3.4 to the dollar today.

The central bank plans to operate “a managed float” of the currency, setting its exchange rate depending on the price of oil and the value of regional currencies, he said.

South Sudan now controls about 375,000 barrels a day of oil, about 75 percent of the former Sudan’s total output, the third-biggest in sub-Saharan Africa.

South Sudan was forced to release its currency immediately after independence because of a shortage of Sudanese pounds in the central bank, said Tisa.

“If we didn’t start preparing to release the new pound six months ago, we would have run out of money by now,” he said.

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