Gas price soars, flour scarce in Sudan

Sudan exponentially increased the price of cooking gas as of Tuesday while the head of the Bakers’ Union says the country witnesses a flour crisis.

Sudan exponentially increased the price of cooking gas as of today while the head of the Bakers' Union says the country witnesses a flour crisis.

The government announced a threefold increase in the usual price for a cylinder of cooking gas on Monday, raising it from SDG25 to SDG75 ($12.20).

According to the Ministry of Finance, the selling price of a kilogramme of cooking gas is SDG6 ($1) for consumers and 4.80 ($0.80) from warehouses, under the provision that selling expenses and profit margins should not exceed SDG1.2 per kilogramme.

The gas prices are usually set by the Ministry of Finance, which set the price of a 12.5-kg cylinder in Khartoum state on SDG17 ($2.80) for the distributors and SDG25 for consumers, Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) reported two weeks ago. In El Gezira, White Nile, and El Gedaref distributors and consumers used to pay slightly more, the activist group found.

As for North Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile, the price of a gas cylinder was SDG22 for distributors and SDG30 ($4.90) for consumers. The highest official cooking gas price in Sudan is in the other Darfur states, where a cylinder officially costed SDG27 for distributors and SDG35 for consumers.

In the beginning of this month, people in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, complained about the sky-rocketed price of cooking gas on the black market, which was set on SDG120 ($20) for a cylinder instead of SDG60 ($10) last year.

Protests anticipated’

The government’s recent amendment of the penalty for rioters in Sudan – up to five years’ imprisonment – “comes in anticipation of economic decisions related to lifting fuel subsidies”, a parliamentary official told journalists last Saturday. “These could spark popular protests.” 

Speaking to Radio Dabanga yesterday, a lawyer expressed his surprise at the speed the amendment was passed last Wednesday.

The severe shortage of cooking gas in many Sudanese cities since the beginning of October last year has created an environment of corruption extending from import operations to distributions, the SDFG said. To bridge the gap in gas supply from the local refinery, the Ministry of Oil and Gas struggles to secure hard currency to import gas. ‘The high demand of the gas is bound to lead to corrupt practices […] raise the price of a gas cylinder on the black market to SDG100-120 ($16-20).’

Flour in short supply

Head of the Bakers' Union in Sudan, Badreldin El Jalal, said that Sudan witnesses a flour crisis in a press statement on Monday. The shares to bakery owners have decreased from 10 to 12 sacks a day to only four sacks. El Jalal said that there are bakeries that receive less.

The country imports wheat worth about $1.4 billion, he said. A report by the Central Bank of Sudan stated the worsening deficit in the trade balance of the country by the end of 2014. Exports have amounted to $4.35 billion, while imports have amounted to $9.21 billion at a deficit of up to $4.86 billion.

In mid-2015, bakeries in Khartoum and a number of other Sudanese states experienced a shortage of flour, after the Sudanese milling companies reduced the daily flour quotas in March.