Food and basic goods subsidies under discussion in Sudan


Sudan is discussing scenarios including cash transfers for poor people to accompany planned subsidies for food and other basic goods, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said.

Shortages of bread, fuel and medicine coupled with hefty price rises brought people out in protest and led to the toppling of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir in April.

The economy remained in turmoil as politicians negotiated a three year power-sharing deal between the military and civilians.

Hamdok told Reuters cash transfers were one scenario discussed to offset a cut in food and other subsidies.

Bashir’s government ran up enormous budget deficits subsidising fuel, bread and other products.

Hamdok gave no details but said the plan included subsidies for drugs, medical services and education.

“The issue of subsidies is one of the most important and biggest challenges,” he said during a visit to Darfur where poverty is high after more than 15 years of conflict and violence.

In September Hamdok’s government announced a nine-month economic rescue plan aimed at curbing rampant inflation while ensuring supplies of basic goods. The plan would keep bread and petroleum subsidies in place until at least June 2020.

Hamdok, a technocrat and economist, said Sudan was still in talks with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund about the 2020 budget year.

In August Hamdok said the country needed $8 billion in foreign aid over the next two years to cover its import bill and help rebuild the economy.

The transitional government has been working on removing Sudan from the US sponsors of terrorism list to potentially open the door for investment. Its inclusion on the list makes it ineligible for debt relief and financing from lenders including the IMF.