Expert: ‘Coronavirus will exacerbate the economic crisis in Sudan’
The spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) will seriously affect the most vulnerable people in Sudan, says economist Hasan Bashir. The government must take measures to financially support the large informal sector in the country. The private sector should help out as well.
Sudan recorded three coronavirus patients, all this month. The first one, a man in his 50s, died in Khartoum on March 10.
On January 28, the Sudanese government set up checkpoints at the borders and the Khartoum International Airport. This Monday, Khartoum imposed a State of Emergency in the country, with a curfew from 8 pm to 6 am, closure of the borders, and a ban on air traffic. Schools and markets have been closed. Gatherings are prohibited. At 8 pm on Thursday, public transport came to a halt as well.
Professor Hasan Bashir, economist and director of the Red Sea University, said in an interview with Radio Dabanga on Wednesday that the spread of coronavirus will create more pressure on the Sudanese economy, and increase the severity of the economic recession.
The Covid-19 pandemic “will negatively affect production and exports, in particular gold and other export products that constitute a pillar of the Sudanese economy,” Bashir explained.
The most affected by the spread of the coronavirus are those who depend on their livelihood on their day-to-day income. These represent a very large segment of the Sudanese people. - Professor Hasan Bashir
“The spread of the coronavirus in Sudan will also affect the performance of the private sector, including the transport sector,” he added. “In particular the entire non-regulated sector, whether in the countryside, towns, or the capital Khartoum, will be hit.
“The most affected by the spread of the coronavirus are those who depend on their livelihood on their day-to-day income. These represent a very large segment of the Sudanese people,” the expert said. “The coronavirus will seriously impact the income of diary vendors and women who earn their daily income by selling tea and coffee on the streets, and food at the markets.”
“All of this will lead to a significant decline in income levels,” the economist predicted. “The authorities should take care for the most vulnerable, and provide aid in a timely manner even if the epidemic will continue for a long time.”
He emphasised that the situation calls for social solidarity. “The powerful can assist the vulnerable and support the government’s efforts in providing what can be provided to those who witness a significant decrease in their income, as is now happening in many parts of the world.”
Impact of curfew
On the effects of the curfew in force throughout Sudan, Bashir said that the measure will increase the economic recession and will in particular affect workers in the informal sector.
“It would be more harmful to the economy and workers at all levels, if the curfew would be effective the entire day,” he stated. “Yet, it is good that the state is taking precautions to prevent a major coronavirus outbreak.”
The professor also pointed to the impact of the curfew on the health services. “Most of the clinics and doctors operate in the evening. This curfew will limit their work, and there may be patients that will not able to arrive in time for treatment. So, this matter needs to be addressed as soon as possible.”
He called on the Sudanese people, especially youth activists and the resistance committees in the neighbourhoods, to help alleviate the effects of the epidemic in the country, by expand the scope of home delivery services, especially medicines.
Most of the clinics and doctors operate in the evening. This curfew will limit their work - Professor Hasan Bashir
The commercial sector in Sudan is complaining about damage to their businesses due to the coronavirus.
Owners of companies said they will not be able to pay the salaries of their employees any more if the situation will continue for a long time. Travel agency owners already suffered heavy losses after flights were banned.
Bus owners will incur major losses as well, as most of them have to redeem their bank loans on time, the chairman of the Travel Buses’ Chamber reported.
On Wednesday, the travel bus station (land port) in Khartoum witnessed longer lines of passengers than usual. People already got used to few buses because of the fuel crisis, but now they wanted to travel to their destination in the states before the public transport ban would become effective on Thursday evening.
Travellers confirmed to Radio Dabanga that bus tickets were sold out. Brokers were selling bus tickets for 150 per cent of the official price.
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