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Sudanese Pound drops again despite new forex trader clampdown

March 10 - 2019 KHARTOUM

The ongoing economic malaise in Sudan, coupled with a chronic shortage of ready cash, continues to drive the Sudanese Pound (SDG) to all-time lows against international currencies, despite a new clampdown on street forex traders.

On Friday, the US Dollar was trading at SDG 73 for cash, and SDG 90 for cheques, while the official price set by the government-appointed  Market Makers Mechanism remains at SDG 47.5.

Foreign currency traders told Radio Dabanga said there has been an increasing demand for the Dollar by individuals and companies. They expect the Pound to continue to fall despite recent government measures.

They reported that the authorities launched intensive campaigns against currency traders at El Soug El Arabi market in downtown Khartoum, and arrested a large number of them.

Emergency Order 3

The current clampdown against unofficial forex traders follows Emergency Order 3*, issued on February 25 in terms of the year-long State of Emergency declared by President Omar Al Bashir on February 22.

Liquidity crisis

The Director of the Central Bank of Sudan Dr Mohamed El Zubeir announced last week that the printing of SDG 500 banknotes would begin. He said these notes are expected to be distributed in the third week of March.

He reported that banks have been receiving money on a daily basis for distribution, with more than three billion Pounds reaching banks over the past few days.

According to the Director, 200 million Pounds are delivered each day for withdrawal from ATMs across the country. He stressed that this is done to provide for the needs of citizens and is a relative breakthrough according to official statistics.

Radio Dabanga has been reporting for months that banks across Sudan have limited cash withdrawals.

The printing of new currency denominations of SDG 100, SDG 200, and SDG 500 by the Central Bank of Sudan has been necessitated by hyperinflation, coupled with a chronic shortage of hard cash. Banks have limited cash withdrawals so traders and the public prefer to keep their cash at home, rather than deposit it into banks.

Over the past few months, as the value of the Sudanese Pound has dropped steadily against the US Dollar. In December 2018, the Central Bank of Sudan issued a decision to set the limit of cash withdrawals by bank cards at ATMs at SDG 20,000 ($421*) a month.

Airlines pull-out

The liquidity shortage and hyperinflation in Sudan has prompted several international airlines including Royal Jordanian, Qatar Airways, Gulf Airways, and Kenya Airways to cut flights to Khartoum.

* Emergency Order 3 regulates the handling of foreign exchange and determining controls for the exit of foreign currency and gold through ports and crossings. The following is prohibited:

1. Dealing in foreign exchange for sale or purchase outside the official channels;

2. Carrying more than $3,000 or the equivalent of other foreign currencies as a person traveling through any air or sea port or any land crossing;

3. Carrying or possessing more than 150 grams of manufactured gold as a traveller outside Sudan through any air, sea, or land port;

4. Carrying, possessing or storing any quantity of raw gold, whatever it is from, by those who are not licensed to manufacture or export;

5. Anyone who holds any gold in any form must comply with the regulations issued by the competent authorities, which determine the conditions for the transfer of gold from one region to another;

The order stipulates that anyone who commits, participates, aids, facilitates or permits the committing of any of the acts above, shall be punished by at least imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years and a fine, and confiscation of the currencies.

** As effective foreign exchange rates can vary widely in Sudan, Radio Dabanga bases all SDG currency conversions on the Market Makers Mechanism-determined daily US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS).

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