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Economist: 'Coronavirus will not affect Sudanese economy'

March 25 - 2020 CAIRO
Professor Hamid Eltigani, economist and Head of the Department of Public Policy and Administration at the American University in Cairo (Social media)
Professor Hamid Eltigani, economist and Head of the Department of Public Policy and Administration at the American University in Cairo (Social media)

Professor Hamid Eltigani, economist and Head of the Department of Public Policy and Administration at the American University in Cairo, said that he does not expect the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic to affect the Sudanese economy significantly.

If the coronavirus will have an impact on the Sudanese economy, it will remain limited, Eltigani said during an interview with Radio Dabanga about the economic effects of the coronavirus on the Sudanese economy yesterday.

He attributed the low level of impact of the coronacrisis to the fact that the Sudanese economy is rather isolated. It has not been affected by major economic tremors, such as the economic crisis that struck the world in 2008. As Sudan was not part of the global banking system, which is a result of international sanctions, it was not affected so much, Eltigani stated.

Real crisis

Professor Eltigani stated that Sudan's biggest problem is not the coronavirus and the resulting economic and social situation. The real crisis is caused because the people in Sudan consume and spend more than they produce and export.

He predicted that imports of “unnecessary goods” will decrease, because people will try to limit their purchases to basic and necessary commodities. According to Eltigani, Sudan's exports will remain the same, or will even increase, especially agricultural products such as Arabic gum and meat.

He expected the state to benefit from the current crisis in some aspects, such as a drop in oil prices. He recommended that the Sudanese government try to obtain as much oil as possible at the current low prices.

Eltigani did expect that Sudanese in European and American countries will be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which may lead some to lose income or work. This can negatively affect their ability to send assistance to their relatives in Sudan.

He pointed to the large segment of workers in Sudan that needs to work every day. They cannot be prohibited to work, he said, because the government does not have the means to support them financially.

National fund

The economics professor called for the creation of a national fund to support the budget of the Ministry of Health, and the Nafeer initiative, whose volunteers spray buses and other means of transportation to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

He said that if the virus were to spread in Sudan, it would be in the capital Khartoum. He said he was not concerned for the rural population, because it will remain out of reach of the virus, he expects.

However, he warned those coming from abroad not to travel from Khartoum to distant regions and villages. He also called upon those living abroad not to return in the present circumstances, and not to mix with people if they do return.

Petrol and diesel

The Ministry of Finance announced that sufficient quantities of petrol and diesel have been bought to secure the country's needs until the end of June.

Yesterday, in a report to the Council of Ministers, finance minister El Badawi announced a contract with the Saiga Mills that will provide Sudan with 45,000 tons of flour. Another contract was signed with the World Food Programme (WFP), which will provide another 200,000 tons.

El Badawi expected that the local production of wheat will reach one million tons, which means that there will be sufficient wheat.

 


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