Sudanese Pound hits record lows against world currencies
The rate of the Sudanese Pound (SDG) is trading at all-time lows on the streets of Khartoum. There is no end in sight for the ongoing economic malaise in the country – largely a legacy of the corruption and mismanagement by the deposed Al Bashir regime – that has led to unrelenting price hikes for consumer goods, and widespread shortages of bare essentials such as bread.
On Wednesday, traders in Khartoum were asking SDG 107 for one US Dollar (USD) the highest cost for the greenback to date. By comparison, today’s official daily middle US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) is SDG 54.63.
According to dealers who spoke to Radio Dabanga, Pound Sterling (GBP) reached SDG 136.74 on the parallel market, while the price of the Euro reached SDG 114.48. Saudi Riyal (SAR) reached SDG 28.26 on, while the Emirati Dirham (AED) reached SDG 29.04, and the Qatari Riyal (QAR) trades for SDG 29.07,
The head of the Flour and Fuel Distribution Unit in South Darfur announced that the quantities of flour available in the state do not exceed 3,000 50 kg sacks, which is not enough for a day.
He attributed this to the departure of three of the five companies that supplied flour to the state.
In a meeting with the flour distribution mechanism on Tuesday, the acting governor of the state, Maj Gen Hashim Khaled, harshly criticised the mechanism for not notifying him earlier of the seriousness and exacerbation of the state’s bread flour crisis.
Rising commodity prices
Members of the Sudanese Professionals Association of the Ministry of Finance in Kassala accused the state government of causing the price of a 50 kg bag of sugar to rise from SDG 1,850 ($33.86*) to SDG 3,100 ($56.74).
In a statement, they said that the state’s Ministry of Finance has sold a large amount of subsidised sugar, estimated at 32,000 sacks to merchants, expecting increase in sugar prices due to this procedure and demanded the governor of the state to direct the return of the sugar sold to the merchants immediately so that it can go to the target citizen in the specified manner and the specified price, threatening to follow the legal means to return it
They also demanded the formation of an investigation committee to find out those responsible administratively for this administrative corruption that occurred and hold them accountable immediately.
As reported by Radio Dabanga on February 13, Sudan’s Minister of Industry and Trade Madani Abbas has apologised to the Sudanese people for the lack of a solution to the bread shortage. He affirmed the state’s commitment to continue subsidising bread until the end of the transitional period. The government currently subsidises a sack of flour by more than SDG 1,600 ($30).
In recent days, independent economic experts have cited the instability of the Dollar exchange rate and subsidies as major factors in Sudan’s economic crisis.
In an interview with Radio Dabanga this week, former banker and civil society activist Hafiz Ismail, who is a leading member of the Sudanese panel of experts, says that “the current economic crisis is attributable to the lack of vision and the absence of an economic plan to manage the crisis”.
Ismail warns of economic collapse in the country due to the rapid deterioration in value of the Sudanese Pound “around the clock”. He expressed concern that the economic failure would “neutralise the public towards the government and increase the growing rejectionist trend“.
The analyst told Radio Dabanga that the Sudanese economy suffers from two distortions, namely commodity subsidy and multiple [Central Bank of Sudan, customs, and unofficial] exchange rates, and calls “for the development of policies to mitigate harm to the most affected groups through social security networks in preparation for the lifting of subsidies”.
In a separate interview with Radio Dabanga, Professor Hamid Eltigani, economist and Head of the Department of Public Policy and Administration at the American University in Cairo, describes the economic situation as “dangerous”. He warns against “an explosion in the country” in case the economic crisis is not dealt with. He calls for a gradual lifting of subsidies on petrol and diesel, and normalisation of the exchange rate between the Sudanese Pound and the US Dollar.
* USD 1 = SDG 54.63 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 US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS).
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