The Sudanese Minister of Finance and Economic Planning briefed the ambassadors of the European Union to Sudan on the economic situation in the country in Khartoum yesterday. He thanked them for the EU support to Sudan, in particular for the Samarat programme. The implementation of this families support project however is reportedly suffering from various flaws.
Minister Jibril Ibrahim pointed to the importance of his country’s reintegration in the international community “which is what the government is now working to achieve”, following the success of the international conference organised in the French capital Paris in May to support the democratic transition in Sudan and encourage international investments and partnerships.
The Minister stated that the government focuses on the country’s resources and capabilities, and hopes to benefit from the experiences of other countries “in activating these capabilities”.
The Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported yesterday that Ibrahim briefed the ambassadors about the current economic policies, and presented the vision of the Sudanese government regarding the 2022 general budget.
He further thanked the EU for its generous support to the Sudanese people, for the programmes being implemented by the transitional government, in particular the families support programme Samarat.
The EU ambassadors congratulated the transitional government on the economic reforms it recently implemented in order to reach economic stability in Sudan. They also affirmed their strong support for the government in addressing the existing challenges.
The second phase of the Samarat (Fruits) families support project was launched by Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok in February.
The direct cash support programme is financially supported by both the World Bank and the European Union, and aims to increase the purchasing power of Sudanese families by providing “each qualified person in a household five USD, initially for a period of six months.
“Subject to funding availability, the transfers will be ramped up to twelve months, with the aim of eventually reaching 80 per cent of the population or nearly 32 million citizens,” the World Bank stated in March.
The $5 which most Sudanese are supposed to receive each month currently equals about SDG2,230, the average price for 20 loaves of bread or a kilogram of meat. The amount is often not enough to cover the price of simple medicines, economic analyst Hafiz Ismail said in an interview with Radio Dabanga last month.
Economist Sidgi Kaballo also criticised the family support project. The five USD do not suffice to combat hunger because of the continuous rise in prices following the implementation of the economic liberalisation policy, as the amount now only equals SDG2,150,” he told Altaghyeer newspaper end June.
According to the president of the Sudanese Society for Consumer Protection, Yasir Mirghani, the government will not be able to deliver the monthly support to “the real needy who do not knock on the government’s door”. The state must instead support education “to become compulsory and free”, and a health insurance system instead of the Samarat programme, he said.
Moreover, the implementation of the programme is not only delayed, there are also people who registered for the monthly support, but did not receive it. Others are receiving the amount twice a month, Altaghyeer newspaper reported. There are also allegations of fraudulous practices during the implementation of the programme.
Commissioner for Safety and Poverty, Ministry of Social Development Ezzeldin El Safi acknowledged the “great challenges” facing the Samarat programme, including those concerning the availability of the necessary data and infrastructure. The Ministry of Finance is working with its partners in the programme to overcome obstacles, he stated.