South Sudan vice-president Igga urges traders to reduce prices during COVID-19 pandemic

South Sudan’s second vice-president, James Wani Igga (C) delivers a speech as part of the South Sudan Oil & Power 2017 conference in Juba, on October 11, 2017. Dozens of Industry experts, delegations from Sudan and Uganda, South Sudan government officials, and leaders from the private sector are meeting in this two-day conference to deal with energy and infrastructure issues and economical opportunities. / AFP PHOTO / Albert Gonzalez Farran

April 26, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) – South Sudan vice-president James Wani Igga has urged traders in South Sudan to reduce prices during the novel coronavirus pandemic to cope with the crisis.

The vice president who heads the Economic Cluster in the transitional government says all essential commodities should be made affordable.

Last week, the Chamber of Commerce said they have noticed an unreasonable rise in the prices of commodities even though they have advised against it.

The body accused some traders of increasing prices even though the South Sudanese Pound has been significantly gaining against the US dollar.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already devastating economic and humanitarian situation in South Sudan.

Aid agencies say the virus has compounded the poverty and economic hardship rampant in South Sudan before the virus arrived.

South Sudan, a landlocked country, imports all of its basic commodities from the neighboring countries and overseas.

Uganda and Kenya supply items such as tomatoes, onions, maize flour, cooking oil, dairy products, beans, among others.

Regional governments have allowed cargo trucks to transport goods across the borders despite their closure to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

These trucks continue to enter South Sudan daily.

“These days, there should be a reduction in prices of goods across the country. This has started with the reduction in the prices of petrol, which is now at 180 pounds, Dr. Igga said.

But some members of the public who spoke to Eye Radio recently said they are unable to purchase food items, pay bills such as rent and provide for other medical illnesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Food items should be cheap and medicines should also be cheap,” Dr. Wani Igga asserted.

Although South Sudan practices a free market system where supply and demand determine the prices, the government can intervene to make some goods less expensive, or discourage demand for demerit goods.

Wani Igga cautioned traders at the popular Konyo-konyo market, where most of these items are found, against unnecessarily hiking prices.

“Let those in Konyo-konyo listen to this properly; if you are increasing the prices, your goods will remain and no one will buy it from you,” he warned.

The World Health Organization notes that the outbreak of COVID-19 means families are having to cope with disrupted education, family illness and loss of household income.

Recently, the East African Community Secretariat advised Partner States to immediately commence developing National Economic Recovery Plans.

This plans should include strengthening food production systems by allowing farming activities to continue.

South Sudan and other East African countries are encouraged to also promote the use of technology and digital solutions to improve agriculture production and trade in agriculture products.