A workshop took place in Zurich from 15 to 17 February 2011 attended by 14 South Sudanese decision-makers in the domain of banking and finance. The participants also included Minister of Culture Gabriel Changson Chang, Head of the South Sudan negotiating team on “Banking and Currency”, Minister for Financial and Economic Planning David Deng Athorbei, as well as Minister for Human Resource Development Mary Jervas Yak. The training and discussion seminar was the result of a request made to Switzerland by the South Sudan Government for the transmission of the knowledge along with the technical and legal advice necessary for establishing a Central Bank.
Specialists from the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and the FDFA’s Office of the Special Representative for Sudan and the Horn of Africa worked out approaches to solving a number of problems with the South Sudan delegation. Discussions focused, for instance, on the mandate and the tasks of a future South Sudan Central Bank, the requirements needed to realize the various options proposed and the consequent outcomes, the drafting of a Central Bank law, the independence of a Central Bank, a step-by-step implementation plan, and the possibilities of support from abroad.
The former Governors of the Central Banks of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro were also present to report on the experience of other countries. In addition, the external participants and guest speakers at the workshop included representatives from the IMF, the World Bank, national fund directorates, and consulting firms. With a view to the creation of their own currency, an integral part of the workshop also consisted in visiting the banknote production plant of the company Orell Füssli AG.
The event fits in with Switzerland’s other efforts in fostering a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Sudan. Since October 2010, Switzerland has been supporting the ongoing negotiations on how to shape the period following January’s referendum on independence. Upon request of the negotiating parties, Switzerland has already made available several expertises. The issues under negotiation include the splitting of state assets, the goods and the debt of the central government in Khartoum, as well as the establishment of a Central Bank and the creation of South Sudan’s own currency. A reliable Central Bank institution and a coordinated currency policy are indispensable for security and lasting peace.
Based on the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the central government in Khartoum and Southern Sudan, the South Sudanese population was provided, six years later, with the opportunity to express its desire for secession from the North in a referendum. According to plan, the long-awaited secession referendum took place between 9 and 15 January 2011. An overwhelming majority of 98.83% of the approx. 3.8 million voters spoke out in favour of separation from the north. South Sudan still has a number of substantial tasks to be accomplished before its independence becomes definitive. At present, the major challenge is represented by the Post-Referendum negotiations with the North which are meant to determine how the two countries are to live and work together side by side in the future.
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