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Hamdok: 40% of Sudanese economy 'sabotaged by smuggling’

August 22 - 2020 KHARTOUM
A gold trader at the Omdurman Grand Market (marcodilauro.com)
A gold trader at the Omdurman Grand Market (marcodilauro.com)

On Thursday, the rate of the Sudanese Pound on the Khartoum parallel market fell to its lowest level. According to Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, the biggest threat to the country’s economy is the widespread smuggling of goods, in particular gold.

The Pound reached 170 against the US Dollar on Thursday, amid concerns that the forex rates on the parallel market will continue to rise in the coming days.

After investigations into the forex and gold trade, a number of people have been arrested, the Ministry of Finance reported in a statement on Thursday.

The devaluation of the Pound against foreign currencies is “an act of organised sabotage against the economy” of Sudan, the Ministry stated. It accused “elements of the former regime” of pumping large amounts of, often forged, Sudanese banknotes into the country, by buying hard currency and gold at high prices, with the aim of sabotaging the economy.

Smuggling

On Friday, PM Abdallah Hamdok said that the biggest threat to the Sudanese economy is the widespread smuggling of goods in the country, which covers about 40 percent of the country's economy.

He said in an interview with Radio Omdurman that the Emergency Committee set up by the government to fight smuggling operations has succeeded, in a short period of time, in curbing the smuggling in gold. Because of these actions, Sudan has been able to export four tons of gold recently.

Hamdok described the rise in the forex rates and gold prices during the past two days, as “systematic and economically unjustified sabotage operations.

“It is inconceivable that people buy gold for more than 10 per cent of the international price,” he said.

Gold export regulated

For years, the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) was the sole institution legally allowed to trade in gold. The bank that had a monopoly on exports, bought gold in Sudan at fixed prices at collection sites in the country, which led to illegal trade. In January, Sudan decided to permit private traders to export gold, in a bid to stop the recurrent smuggling of gold, and to attract foreign currency.

Six months later, Sudan started to export gold in a regulated way, after a gold stock market was established in May to level the price of the precious metal in the country with the international tariff.

The Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported on Wednesday that the High Committee for Economic Emergencies decided to form a mechanism to monitor the production, transport, sale, and export of gold. Measures have been taken as well to combat gold smuggling via Khartoum International Airport.


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