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Meat, veg, fruit scarce or unaffordable in Sudan

October 18 - 2018 SUDAN
File photo
File photo

Listeners from various Sudanese states have renewed their complaints about the rise in the prices of food and consumer goods across the country, driven sky-high by a combination of the ongoing fuel crisis and a shortage of cash.

A number of caller told Radio Dabanga that their salaries are sufficient for only ten days. Say that the majority of families eat a meal or two free of meat, vegetables or fruit.

The Secretary-General of the Wages Council, Abdelrahman Haydoub, said that the cost of living for a family of five people is not less than SDG 9,800 ($210*), the minimum wage is SDG 424 ($9) while the minimum wage to live below the extreme poverty line, according to the World Bank for every person between $2-$7 a day.

Haydoub said there is favouritism among the employees in the state; pointing out that there is an employee at the ninth degree is paid higher than an under-secretary of a ministry.

Petrol queues return

After a few weeks of relative respite, the Sudanese capital is again witnessing queues in front of petrol stations. Bus passengers are waiting long hours for transport. The authorities of El Geneina in West Darfur have introduced fuel distribution cards.

Earlier this week, people in Khartoum reported a renewed scarcity of petrol and diesel at the filling station. Pump owners attributed the crisis to the reduction of the daily rations for a number of fuel stations.

A worker at a petrol station in Omdurman told this station on Tuesday that their share of diesel decreased that morning.

Apart from a lack of transport and overcrowded bus stations, commuters in Khartoum complain about a tariff increase of 100 per cent.

“I daily pay at least SDG 10 ($ 0.21*) for a short ride to my work,” a basic school teacher complained. “And as I earn a poor SDG 1,300 ($ 28) a month, I really don’t know any more how to survive.”

Crises

Sudan is suffering from chronic hard currency shortages and a soaring inflation since 2012. Prices skyrocketed in particular after the government implemented a set of austerity measures in January this year. The crises have led to recurrent shortages in commodities like bread and fuel.

In May, President Omar Al Bashir reshuffled his cabinet and launched a “war on corruption” in a bid to revive the country’s economy and curb the soaring food prices. In September, Al Bashir announced a second cabinet reshuffle and new measures to cut government spending. The 31 ministries would be reduced to 21. The number of ministries in the 18 states in the country would be downsized as well.

According to former banker and civil society activist Ismail Mohamed, the economic problems in Sudan are the result of an unclear political vision to tackle them. The imbalances facing the Sudanese economy are structural, because of the poor economic infrastructure and the inability to absorb any shocks, the financial analyst said in July.

He pointed to the large budget deficit, the trade payment deficits that led to a sharp devaluation of the national currency, the huge external debts, high inflation and low salaries, high unemployment rates, especially among universities graduates, a shrinking economy which caused a sharp decline in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and a sharp rise of the poverty levels.

* Based on the daily US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan.


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