Thu, 19 Sep 2019

Economic Crisis Bites Sudan Civilians

Tasnim
19 Aug 2019, 18:36 GMT+10

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Long queues are building up in front of banks, bakeries and gas stations across Sudan, reflecting the ongoing economic hardships facing civilians in Sudan following the ouster of Omar al-Bashir.

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"I'm still suffering with no change in my life," Kamal Hamid, 47, an employee, told Anadolu Agency.

"My salary is still insufficient to cover my expenses because prices are getting high every day and queues for cash and fuel are still there," he said.

Hamid, who works in the state-run electricity company, said he spends between three to five hours a day in queues of banks and fuel stations to get his needs.

"After eight months of the protests that toppled al-Bashir, I don't feel any major change in my life," he lamented. "The economic suffering is still continuing and the prices in the local markets are soaring."

Al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for 30 years, was removed from power by the military in April after months of protests that started on the backdrop of economic difficulties.

Ali Abdul Rahim, a businessman, complained that the economic situation was getting worse in Sudan.

"As a businessman, I'm facing many difficulties, especially with the fluctuation of the Sudanese pound against US dollar," he said.

He added that despite the p change in Sudan, the US sanctions on the country are remaining and that make it very difficult to do business with banking transactions.

Sudan is still on the US terrorism list, making businesses unable to operate dollar transactions.

After a short relax after al-Bashir's ouster, inflation and exchange rates began to worsen again.

Inflation hit above 72% when the protests began against al-Bashir in December. Although it reached 43% in January, inflation began to climb again, hitting 52% in July.

The Sudanese pound continued to plummet against US dollar, with the dollar is exchanged for 80 pounds, up from only 60 pounds in December.

Ahmed Almanouri, a black market trader, said the dropping value of the Sudanese pound against dollar is confusing the entire business in Sudan.

He expected the exchange rate to worsen further as the demand for the US currency is on the rise for importing many basic commodities, especially medicines, wheat and fuel.

"The US dollar is on rise due to the high demand and the poor income of foreign currency, making the value of the pound to go down and create a big uncertainty in the market."

Mohamed El-Jack, a professor of economy at Khartoum University, said the Sudanese economy is very exhausted and needs to be reformed.

He opined that the rule of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) is creating more problems as a lot of money has been spent without specific plans.

He said the $3 billion offered by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Sudan following al-Bashir's overthrow can help in rebalancing the economy, but it needs to be managed properly.

"The economy is being run by unprofessional plans put in place by the TMC," he said. "This situation is a major defect in itself because the TMC can't save the national economy from the current deterioration."

He believes that the formation of a new government and the handover of power to a civilian administration "will lead to the endorsement of concrete plans of reformation to Sudan's deteriorating economy".

In an official ceremony Saturday, representatives of the TMC and Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) hammered out a power-sharing deal.

According to the deal, a sovereign council -- consisting of six civilians and five military personnel -- will run the country until the elections.

A prime minister, according to the same agreement, will be appointed with the approval of the council on Aug. 20, to be sworn in before the council and head of the Supreme Court on Aug. 21.

Hamid Eltigani, economy professor at the American University of Cairo (AUC), said the high expenditure of the military and security organs have deeply fatigued the Sudanese economy.

"The former regime was relying on the military machine to repress dissidents; it requires massive spending on armaments and its patronage system," he said.

"Today, the focus is on peace-building and peacekeeping. Millions of IDPs, who were productive individuals, now need to return home to be productive again. The government must invest in them."

He said the coming transitional government should focus on the agriculture and other natural resources to re-build the economy.

"Investing in peace is a priority. Organizing security and military sectors and overhauling the federal system to be efficient and cost effectiveness are necessary to reduce government spending and redirect them to build human capital," he said.

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