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Inflation over 114% as Sudan’s economic woes deepen

June 18 - 2020 KHARTOUM / KASSALA / SARAF OMRA
File photo
File photo

The annual inflation rate in Sudan surged 114.33 per cent in May, compared to 98.81 per cent in April, according to Sudan’s Central Statistics Bureau. The Sudanese Pound (SDG) rallied slightly against hard currencies following threats of a forex trading clampdown on Wednesday.

Releasing the latest official figures, the Central Statistics Bureau attributed the inflation rate hike to sharp increases in food and beverage group, especially bread, cereals, meat, legumes, and sugar, in addition to the already soaring prices of cooking gas, charcoal, housing maintenance costs, and transportation.

Forex trade clampdown

The price of the US Dollar decreased slightly from SDG 154* on Tuesday to SDG 146 yesterday, hours after Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, threatened to “deal with” all forex traders on the parallel market.

Hemeti said that “influential people involved in currency trading will not be exempted”. He described the illegal trade in US Dollars “the biggest enemy” of the country.

“After today, we will not demonstrate the slightest tolerance anymore,” he said, and called on the public to report anyone carrying Dollars.”

According to economic journalists, Hemeti’s threats shook the parallel currency market yesterday and demand decreased sharply.

Currency traders attributed the reason for the drop in the Dollar price on Thursday to the announcement of the emergency committee to monitor traders with the legalisation of gold exports and the closure of smuggling outlets, as well as the creation of a portfolio of strategic commodities.

Strategic goods

At a meeting on Tuesday, the Economic Emergency Committee, chaired by Hemeti, Deputy Chairman of the Sovereign Council and Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), discussed the economic crisis in the country as prices for major commodities continue to surge, while fuel and bread shortages deepen.

The committee approved the establishment of a “strategic goods portfolio” in an attempt to reduce the ongoing market disruptions and alleviate the protracted crises. Economic experts and businessmen are to participate in the project.

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok announced after the meeting that the strategic goods portfolio will officially come into effect on Sunday.

The project is expected to contribute to the stability of the forex rates, the provision of strategic goods on a regular basis, a reduction of the shortages, a solution to the problems of the import of fuel, wheat, and medicines. and the export of gum Arabic, gold, and livestock, he said.

Farmers fear season failure

On Wednesday, farmers in Kassala warned of the dire consequences of the fuel crisis for the current season. They handed a memorandum to the governor of Kassala, demanding the provision of fuel and the formation of area committees to ensure that their share of diesel will reach them. If the fuel shortages continue, the agricultural season in Kassala will fail to a large extent, the farmers warned.

In Saraf Omra in North Darfur, the RSF halted the transport of sorghum and millet to other areas. They also banned the transport of sugar and other goods from the locality after the Economic Committee said cross-border smuggling must be stopped.

Merchants in Saraf Omra called the decision to ban the transfer of goods from the locality unlawful. According to the traders, the RSF misinterpreted the orders, as Saraf Omra is not a border locality. “Movement of goods in the locality with other localities is not international,” they pointed out.

The merchants called on the federal and state government to take urgent and immediate intervention to solve the problem.

Pharmacists vigil

Today, pharmacists in Khartoum plan to stage a vigil in front of the office of the Council of Ministers in protest against the continuing medicine crisis. They demand the provision of foreign currency at reasonable rates with which they can buy medicines abroad at prices affordable to the Sudanese public.

The pharmacists are to present a memorandum to the prime minister requesting that medicines be listed as a strategic commodity and accordingly provides $55 million a month to buy them.

The pharmacists are also calling for the creation of a permanent portfolio that works to meet the annual sector liabilities of the free currency, estimated at $650 million, in addition to the state’s obligation to pay and schedule the outstanding debts amounting to $105 million to the National Supply Fund and $60 million for importers at the official rate.

* USD 1 = SDG 55.1375 at the time of publishing this article. As effective foreign exchange rates can vary in Sudan, Radio Dabanga bases all SDG currency conversions on the daily middle US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS).


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