‘Sudan received $2 billion in loans from Gulf states’: official
During the past three months, Sudan received about $2 billion in concessional loans from Gulf Arab nations, BloombergBusiness reported on Monday.
The US-based news agency quoted a Sudanese Finance Ministry official who considers the loans as a sign of the country’s improved ties with the region’s US-allied monarchies.
“We have agreed with the Gulf states on more foreign capital inflows into the country, which will help in lifting foreign reserves” and assist in funding imports including fuel, AbdelrahmanDirar, State Minister for Finance said in an interview in Khartoum on 15 July. He did not identify which countries provided the funds, saying they would be repaid in “coming years”.
According to Dirar, the country is now targeting an economic growth of 6.3 percent by the end of 2015, up from 3.6 percent last year. Agriculture, which represents about a third of the economy, is one of its main drivers, as well as services and mining industries.
The State Minister said that Sudan’s foreign-exchange reserves currently stand at $1.4 billion. He expects that the annual inflation, which peaked at 46.8 percent in July 2014, is expected to be reduced to 15 percent by the end of the year.
Khartoum in March joined Saudi Arabia’s campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemenwith aircraft. Analysts said at the time that Sudan’s involvement in Yemen showed a shift of allegiances toward the Gulf Arab countries, which could bring economic rewards.
After the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan reportedly lost about three-quarters of its oil revenues. Khartoum had already begun to raise its gold and minerals production some years earlier,. The gold production reached a peak the first half of this year, amounting to 43 tonnes, according to Minerals Minister Ahmed El Sadeg El Karori. The production during the same period last year was about 31 tonnes.
Sudanese independent economists are less optimistic about Sudan’s financial situation, and warned for reports about the rampant institutional corruption in the country.
Prof Hamid Eltigani Ali, head of the Department of Public Policy and Administration at the American University in Cairo, told Radio Dabanga on 6 July that Sudan will go bankrupt because of its external debts, amounting to more than $45 billion.
“If the current situation does not change, the country will drown in its debts,” he warned, suggesting that the situation can only improve after a regime-change.
“Sudan lacks creative economic visions and does not produce enough,”he said, “while it continues to spend large amounts (about $2 million daily) on the army, militias, and warfare.”
He also pointed to the growing institutional corruption. “The revenues of about 249 oil wells are not deposited in the public treasury. In reality, the total of oil revenues amount to $250 million, rather than the $70 million that appear in the financial reports. There must be about $180 million circulating outside the public treasury.”
According to Prof. Esameldin Abdelwahab Bob, the loss of foreign currency also led to the mortgaging of large parts of land in Khartoum state to businessmen and banks. “The value of the mortgaged plots amounts to SDG900 billion ($150 billion),” he told Radio Dabanga in an interview published on 16 July.
Pointing to recent constitutional amendments that grant President Omar Al Bashir sole responsibility for the country’s territory, Bob warned that more lands may be mortgaged or sold, “especially in El Gezira state, lands that provide livelihood to thousands of Sudanese farmers”.
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