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World Bank chief visiting Sudan lauds progress in transition process

October 1 - 2021 KHARTOUM
President of the World Bank David Malpass holds a press conference in Khartoum, September 30 (SUNA)
President of the World Bank David Malpass holds a press conference in Khartoum, September 30 (SUNA)

David Malpass, President of the World Bank arrived in Khartoum on Wednesday for a two-day visit. In a press conference yesterday, he acknowledged “the remarkable resilience of the Sudanese people”. The bank will support Sudan with $2 billion in grants for poverty reduction and sustainable economic recovery.

The visit “reaffirms the World Bank Group’s commitment to helping Sudan achieve better development outcomes for all of its people. This is the first high-level visit by a World Bank official since Sudan reached the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) decision point in June 2021, which is an important milestone that will enable Sudan to clear nearly all of its estimated $50 billion in external debt,” the World Bank stated on Wednesday.

“We are eager to work with Sudan as it reengages with the international community,” said President Malpass. “Over the next year, we will commit about $2 billion in grants to support the government’s efforts to reduce poverty and boost economic growth. We are looking forward to further scaling up our engagement to improve the living conditions of the Sudanese people.”

The grants are intended to support the rehabilitation of the infrastructure in the country, education and health care, and other areas.

On Thursday afternoon, Malpass gave a speech at the Friendship Hall in Khartoum in which he commended the Sudanese transitional government for the progress they have made.

“Two years ago, Sudan’s transitional government inherited a deeply damaged economy and society that had suffered decades of conflict and isolation. [..] Yet the country pressed forward with bold reforms, re-engaging with the international community, clearing World Bank arrears with the help of a U.S. bridge loan, and in June reaching the decision point for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries – or HIPC – initiative. I welcome Sudan’s progress in macroeconomic stabilization, including arrears clearance, unification of its exchange rate, slowing inflation, fewer shortages, and removal of fuel subsidies.

'Truly inspiring'

“While there is much work ahead, I commend the Sudanese authorities, civil and military, for their efforts and achievements in working together toward a country that is unified, tolerant, and can deliver a better future for all of its citizens. It’s critical to avoid political slippages because there is no development without peace and stability. I would also like to acknowledge the remarkable resilience of the Sudanese people – your drive to build a better Sudan despite the challenges is truly inspiring,” he said.

Malpass affirmed the readiness of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France to help Sudan overcoming its economic difficulties, cancelling its foreign debts, in support of the democratic transition in the country.

He announced that the bank plans to extend the Samarat family support programme from six to 12 months. He explained that this programme in support of the poorest families is concerned with addressing the situation on short and medium terms.

'I would also like to acknowledge the remarkable resilience of the Sudanese people – your drive to build a better Sudan despite the challenges is truly inspiring' -  World Bank President David Malpass

In a press conference on Thursday evening, Malpass said that he had spoken as well with Sovereignty Council President Lt Gen. Abdelfattah El Burhan. He further visited the Samarat registration centre and a COVID-19 vaccination centre, the Sudan News Agency reported.

The head of the World Bank called on the Sudanese expatriates to invest their money in Sudan “to curb the side effects of the economic reform process and achieve economic grow through the provision of youth job opportunities and the rehabilitation of the infrastructure”.

World Bank Vice-President Hafez Ghanem said that of the $2 billion grants the bank will extend the coming six months to attract investments to Sudan, $300 million will be allocated for the rehabilitation of the infrastructure. Another $300 million will be used for the improvement of the drinking water and electricity sectors, and the rehabilitation of education and health care.

'Sudan will witness the fruits of the reforms'

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok thanked the World Bank's “more than valuable contribution” for projects in agriculture, water, transportation, electricity, health, education, and other programmes.

Sudan will witness the fruits of the reforms despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the floods, and the many refugees in the country, he said, and referred to the stability of the Sudanese currency, the decrease in the trade balance deficit, and increases in non-oil exports, and remittances and financial exchanges.

He pointed to the richness of natural and human resources in Sudan, and stressed the need for huge investments, financial and technical resources, and international partnerships. In particular young people should be supported by programmes enhancing their skills, creation of jobs, the provision of social services, and the rehabilitation of the infrastructure in the country.

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