Sudan on Wednesday announced that it would devalue its currency, the pound, and cut fuel subsidies due to a huge budget deficit and an economic crisis aggravated by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
AFP news agency reported that during a press briefing, the acting Finance Minister, Hiba Mohammed, said state revenues had dropped by 40 per cent and created a huge deficit in the budget.
“The government must take urgent measures and change the official rate of the (Sudanese) pound,” she added.
The pound’s official rate is 55 to the dollar, compared to 140 to the dollar in the black market.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok later announced at a news conference that the government would “gradually cut subsidies on petrol and diesel”.
HumAngle gathered that Sudan’s transitional government has grappled with an acute economic crisis since its formation last year following the army’s ouster of veteran dictator Omar al-Bashir amid huge street protests.
Annual inflation reached 136 per cent in June and that same month tens of thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Khartoum and other cities to demand economic reforms.
The country’s economic woes have seen citizens queue for hours to buy essential foods and fuel.
“The government must take the necessary measures to mitigate the effect of the coronavirus pandemic” on the economy, Mohammed said.
On Sunday the UN made an urgent appeal for 283 million dollars to help Sudan tackle the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences, warning that millions could face hunger.
“COVID-19 arrived in Sudan at a time when an increasing part of the population was already struggling to meet their basic needs and the health system was already under extreme stress,” the UN’s Sudan Humanitarian Coordinator Gwi-Yeop Son said on Sunday.
“Unless we act now, we should be prepared for a series of human tragedies,” she said.
Sudan has officially registered more than 11,000 cases of the COVID-19 and 706 deaths.