South Sudan inflation sticks near record high in June

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 24, 2012 7:48 AM
South Sudan inflation sticks near record high in June

JUBA (Reuters) - South Sudan suffered inflation of 74.1 percent year-on-year in June with lower food costs making only a modest dent in May's record high of 79.5 percent as the new country struggles with economic crisis, according to official data on Tuesday.

The central African country seceded from Sudan a year ago, sparking widespread hope among South Sudanese that their nation could steer toward prosperity after decades of devastating civil war.

But disputes between Juba's rebels-turned-politicians and their former masters in Khartoum have hammered the economy, piling additional hardships on people already exhausted by the conflict.

Inflation accelerated after South Sudan shut off oil production in January when a row with Sudan over export fees escalated, depriving the new country of 98 percent of state revenues and its main source of dollars.

South Sudan needs to import most of its food needs as it has no sizable industry outside the oil sector.

Month-on-month inflation was 1.7 percent in June, the National Bureau of Statistics said in its monthly bulletin. Costs of food and non-alcoholic drinks, which make up 71.4 percent of the consumer price index, fell by 0.2 percent in June.

Fruit prices fell by 11 percent in June, and bread and cereals by 5.9 percent, the data showed. Communications costs fell by 6.6 percent in June compared to May.

Some economists doubt the accuracy of official data and estimate prices have actually risen much faster especially in northern border regions, where disruption of supply routes from Sudan has forced many traders to bring in goods from Uganda and Kenya on dirt roads.

(Writing by Ulf Laessing; editing by Stephen Nisbet)