Sudan’s Economic Catastrophe Brings Country to the Brink: A Compendium of Very Recent Reports

 

For several years I have chronicled the slow demise of the Sudanese economy, a task necessary because there is no international reporting of significance and the IMF has essentially abandoned all oversight responsibility. Indeed, no international actor has been more irresponsible than the IMF in failing to warn about Sudan’s economic collapse. Here the most telling revelation is a statement by IMF Mission Chief for Sudan, Edward Gemayel:

 

Mr. Edward Gemayel, the IMF’s Mission Chief for Sudan noted that “Sudan has a long track record of implementing sustainable economic policies.” (IMF press release | http://www.4-traders.com/news/IMF-International-Monetary-Fund-Press-Release-Sudan-Meeting-of-the-Technical-Working-Group-on-E–17345158/

It is impossible to imagine a more foolishly destructive assessment of an economy whose present collapse has become increasingly inevitable—and was well on its way before Gemayel’s preposterous statement.

 

The present, rapidly accelerating economic and political crisis has been clear to those who would only look, although this viewership has been perversely small, and includes primarily Sudanese economists, mainly in the diaspora and whose views are reported almost exclusively by Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune. For my own assessments going back to 2014 (and earlier) see especially:

  • “Watching the Bubble Burst: Political Implications of Sudan’s Economic Implosion,” Enough Project Forum publication, 17 September 2014 | http://www.enoughproject.org/reports/enough-forum-watching-bubble-burst

• “Kleptocracy in Khartoum: Self-enrichment by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party,” December 2015

| https://enoughproject.org/files/EnoughForum_KleptocracyInKhartoum_Reeves_Dec2015.pdf

 

Economic collapse is accelerating rapidly, with the catastrophic 2018 national budget the catalyst, having already produced inflation in prices of some critical consumer commodities by 300%. Protests are now rippling across Sudan, and the first casualty in a protest demonstration has now been reported; there have also been many injuries, most from the grossly disproportionate and excessive use of teargas, including security forces hurling tear-gas grenades in residences where children are present. Half of Sudan’s 18 states have now been put under “stage of emergency” orders.

 

The regime is in no position to rescue the economy or to reverse the surging inflation—coming on top of what was already been for 2017 a year-over-year inflation rate in excess of 50%. The Central Bank of Sudan is estimated to have only enough exchange currency (Forex) for a month and a half of imports—including wheat, which is now imported rather than grown domestically, this despite the abundant tracts of fertile land in Sudan. Radio Dabanga reported on January 7, 2018 that Sudan “imported more than two million tons of wheat at a cost on $1.5 billion in 2015,” the last year for which there are records available.

 

The immensely burdensome increase in the costs of flour, and thus bread, has produced acute shortages and long lines—and fantastic prices increases. As I’ve said, popular anger can be traced readily in the days following the announcement of the 2018 budget that has served as catalyst for explosive anger.

 

 

Will popular anger be enough to overcome fear of the willingness of the regime to use methods as brutal as issuing “shoot to kill” orders? That question is being answered on a daily basis; here a survey of dispatches going back to December 21, 2017—the time at which the budget was announced:

 

[1]  Intensifying Censorship is Key Part of Khartoum Regime’s Response to Popular Uprising
 

Eric Reeves | January 9, 2018   | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2bx

 

As protests increase throughout Sudan, news reporting of popular outrage over catastrophic price hikes for basic commodities also increases; the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime is determined to continue with its present policy of ever-greater censorship. “Red lines” are becoming more restrictive, more crushing of news reporting:

 

• More newspapers seized for covering Sudan price protests | Radio Dabanga, January 9, 2018 | KHARTOUM

 

More newspapers have also been confiscated for neglecting directives of the security apparatus to the press not to report on the demonstrations against Sudan’s price hikes.

 

Print-runs of El Jareeda and El Baath newspapers were seized from the printing press, Mohamed Widaa, editor-in-chief of Baath and also spokesman for the political Arab Baath party, told Radio Dabanga. This brings the total number of seized newspapers that went against the security service’s directives and covered the street protests in the past two days to eight.

 

“The reason was that Baath dealt with the news of the demonstrations and the surge of prices,” Widaa said. “But there is no respected newspaper to be issued without this news.” He stressed their commitment to moral principles and respect for the reader the Sudanese people. “This makes it imperative for us to publish the news, even if we see that it would make [the security service] want to confiscate the newspaper.”

 

Widaa added that the newspaper will not stop nor falsify the facts and publish them. “The security apparatus is acting above the law. The government is the one that is making the current news but wants to prevent publication about it.”

 

[This is the crucial point: the very regime policies that have led to the protests are now the focus of press censorship and repression in the streets—ER]

Objective reporting

 

Majid El Goni, the editor-in-chief of the independent daily El Jareeda, said that the security apparatus did not provide an explanation when officers confiscated the print-runs from the printing press on Monday. “The newspaper’s dealing with the protests rejecting the new budget could be the reason for the confiscation.” In the past days El Jareeda had also dealt with protests in El Gezira, Darfur and Sennar states, however, “not only did the leaders of the opposition talk about the budget, but also the leaders of the National Congress Party did.

 

“Every day the red lines set by the security service for the Sudanese press are gaining territory, preventing any publication on a news subject.”

 

[And this is the other crucial point: as demonstrations accelerate, so censorship and security repression in the streets will only become more intense—something has to give. So far the regime gives no signs of backing away from its catastrophic 2018 budget, in part because it simply can’t: the economy has been too fully destroyed and there are no means of revival at hand—ER]

 

On Sunday morning, officers of the NISS halted the distribution of six newspapers, including Akhbar El Watan, El Midan, El Sayha, El Mustagilla, El Garar, and El Tayyar.

 

[2]  First person killed in demonstrations sweeping Sudan, protesting outrageous price hikes in basic food commodities
 

Eric Reeves | January 8, 2018   |   https://wp.me/p45rOG-2bv

 

The first person—a high school student—has been killed in the demonstrations that are now sweeping across Sudan, protesting outrageous price hikes in basic food commodities. Others injured have been injured, including by the indiscriminate use of large volumes of tear gas. As Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune report, new parts of the country are protesting the inevitable results of catastrophic economic policies, and decades of kleptocracy, by an utterly ruthless and self-enriching regime:

• Darfuri student killed in Sudan protests against price hikes | Radio Dabanga | January 8, 2018 | EL GENEINA / NYALA / ED DAMAZIN / KHARTOUM

On Sunday, the third day of demonstrations against the 300%price increases that hit the country last week, a student was killed in the West Darfur capital of El Geneina. Other parts of the country witnessed protests as well. When demonstrators in El Geneina set fire to the local headquarters of the ruling National Congress Party in the city, government forces opened fire on the crowd.

 

Secondary school student El Zubeir Ibrahim Sikiran was killed instantly. Eight others were wounded. Dozens were detained…

Sudan imports many food items and most of the medicines needed. In 2015, Sudan imported more than two million tons of wheat at a cost of $1.5 billion.

[This vast expenditure on food that should be grown in Sudan is the ultimate cause of the Forex shortage—ER]

 

The recurrent flour crises during the past few years have been attributed to the scarcity of foreign currency. In a bid to fight the steadily increasing hard currency rate at the black market, the government in end December decided to raise the customs rate of the Dollar from SDG 6.7 to SDG 18. After this measure came into effect on Tuesday, the prices of the main consumer goods doubled or even tripled.

 

[Prices appear poised to rise further, as inflation begins to feed on itself in a highly inflationary environment—ER]

Rapid Support Forces

 

On Sunday morning, secondary school students demonstrated also in Nyala, capital of South Darfur. They chanted slogans against the doubling of the bread price. Others blocked the main three streets in the city with burning tyres for several hours. The South Darfur authorities deployed large numbers of militiamen belonging to the Rapid Support Forces in the centre of the capital to support the state police.

 

In Ed Damazin, people took to the streets on Saturday morning. The security forces used tear gas and excessive force to break up the demonstrations that moved from various neighbourhoods of the Blue Nile State capital to the city market. A student reported to this station that two houses in El Zuhour district burned down during the violence. Dozens of demonstrators, among them a number of students of the Blue Nile University, were held, and have been taken to an unknown destination. On Friday and Saturday, Khartoum, Atbara, and Sennar witnessed small protests in a number of neighbourhoods as well.

 

A demonstration of students of the University of Khartoum on Sunday afternoon was immediately halted by police forces who closed the nearby streets, and used tear gas to disperse the protesters. Students told this station that many of them suffered from breathing problems because of the excessive use of tear gas. An unknown number of students were wounded. Dozens were detained.

 

‘Sabotage’

 

On Sunday, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, Babikir Digna, told the press in Khartoum that his Ministry “will not hesitate to crack down on any subversive demonstration against the price hikes.” “We will suppress any sabotage attempts,” he stressed…

 

• Student killed in protests over price rising in West Darfur | Sudan Tribune |January 7, 2018 (EL-GENEINA)

 

A student was killed and others wounded Sunday in a wave of mass protests that swept through West Darfur State capital, El-Geneina over commodity price hikes. An official at West Darfur government told Sudan Tribune under the condition of anonymity that hundreds of students took to the streets of El-Geneina… “The police and the Rapid Support Forces intervened to disperse the demonstration. There were casualties among the protesters. A high school student named Al-Zubayr Ibrahim Sekeran was killed and the authorities would investigate the incident.”

 

In the same context, the minister of education in West Darfur State Bashir Adam Idris issued a decision to suspend primary and high schools study for one week.

[3] Protests Continue in Sudan Amidst Catastrophic Inflation for Basic Commodities
 

Eric Reeves | January 7, 2018  |  https://wp.me/p45rOG-2bt

 

Protests continue in Sudan and seemed destined to grow rapidly; only the most severe repressive measures can stop demonstrations against catastrophic inflation let loose by 2018 budget. Calls for demonstrations are coming from an increasing number of political quarters. Notably, the budget was proposed by the regime, but accepted by the slavish Parliament: it has no real power on issues of importance. Injuries have already been reported, including to children.

 

• Sudan: Sporadic protests against 300% price increases | Radio Dabanga | January 7, 2018 | KHARTOUM / EL GEZIRA / KASSALA

 

On Friday, Khartoum, El Gezira, and Kassala witnessed spontaneous protests against the new increases in the prices of basic commodities and the fuel and electricity tariffs.Opposition parties are calling for mass demonstrations. Flour and fuel shortages continue in various states. As the production of food in Sudan is poor, the country has to import many food items, wheat, and also medicines from abroad. In 2015, Sudan imported more than two million tons of wheat at a cost of $1.5 billion. The recurrent flour crises during the past few years have been attributed to the scarcity of foreign currency… The budget was approved by the Sudanese Parliament on 31 December. After the increase of the customs price came into effect on Tuesday, the prices of the main consumer goods doubled or even tripled.

 

[The fact that this outrageously unfair and misguided budget was approved by the Parliament makes clear that there is no independent check on the dictates of the NIF/NCP regime—Parliament is a sham on real issues—ER]

 

“We don’t know what to do any more,” a housewife told Radio Dabanga from Khartoum North. “The increases concern everything, fuel, bread, cooking oil, medicines, you name it. The price of a quarter of a kg of lentils, that has become important staple food, rose from 5 to 9 Pounds, a plate of 24 eggs from 30 to 60 Pound, and a kg of chicken from 33 to 45 Pound.” Amidst ongoing flour shortages, prices of this basic commodity tripled on Thursday. The price of a 50 kg sack of flour went up from SDG 165 ($23.40*) to SDG 550 ($78) in several states of the country, an increase by 333 per cent. Bakeries closed their doors, or sold one piece of bread for one Sudanese Pound instead of two.

 

[These wild surges in prices, on top of massive previous inflation, are crushing the purchasing power of most Sudanese—and the future for prices looks even more grim—ER]

 

Protests

 

In the Khartoum districts of Burri, El Jereif, and Jabra, people took to the streets in protest against the soaring prices. Dozens of protesters blocked the main streets with burning tyres, listeners reported. In El Hilla El Jedida, El Mazad, El Dibagha, El Asheer, and Banat in El Gezira, south of Khartoum, large numbers of people participated in demonstrations. Some of them set fire to tyres to close the roads. Members of the security apparatus, the police and the paramilitary Central Reserve Police used tear gas and batons to disperse the demonstrators.

 

[NB]  The government forces also threw tear gas canisters inside houses, which caused breathing problems to the residents, in particular the children and the elderly.

In El Hilla El Jedida, two children had to be taken to the hospital. “They almost could not breathe any more,” their mother told this station. Multiple sources reported that a number of demonstrators sustained injuries. Others were held by security forces and taken to an unknown destination. In eastern Sudan’s Kassala, people as well protested against the shortage of bread and the sky-rocketing prices.

 

Dozens of demonstrators gathered spontaneously in front of the vegetable market in Halfa El Jedida after Friday prayers, and chanted slogans against the government policies. One of the protesters told this station most of the bakeries in Halfa El Jedida kept their doors closed on Friday for the lack of flour. The price of a 50 kg sack of flour rose to nearly SDG 500. “The soaring bread prices have become a great burden on us, especially because most of the people are surviving on low incomes already.”

Complaints

 

People in northern Sudan as well complained about the price hikes to Radio Dabanga. “Apart from rise of the price of a tiny piece of bread from half a Pound to one Pound, the price of a kilo of meat has risen from SDG 70 ($10*) to SDG 140,” a listener in Dongola complained… A resident of eastern Sudan’s El Gedaref reported an acute bread crisis in the town. He complained that “The new bread price represents a new challenge as our daily wages and salaries have not increased.”

‘Stability’

 

According to the official Sudanese Press Agency, President Omar Al Bashir received his Assistant, Gen. Abdelrahman El Mahdi, on Thursday and directed him to take action to halt the price hikes and improve the living conditions of the people. Al Bashir said that the outcomes of the National Dialogue are to be fully implemented, in order to realise sustained security and stability in the country.

 

[This is pure propaganda by al-Bashir: there never was a “National Dialogue,” and the 2018 budget only makes the people of Sudan less secure, and ensures that instability will only grow as prices continue to rise—ER]

 

A new alliance of members of the federal Parliament plans to start a protest action against the approval of the new budget. The budget has been criticised as well by Sudanese financial experts and opposition parties for again allocating a high percentage to the army, security service, and paramilitary forces. Similar to previous years, the budget relies on direct and indirect taxes to cover its deficit. The budget includes plans to reduce the inflation rate from 34 per cent to 19 per cent. But according to a Sudanese economist, the inflation rate in the country “exceeds 50 per cent” in reality.

 

[This estimate of the inflation rate is certainly accurate, as opposed to statements from the corrupt Central Bureau of Statistics [inflation is currently “only” 34%], which is simply a propaganda extension of the regime, with no independence—ER]

 

Call for more demonstrations

 

Opposition parties urged the Sudanese people to take to the streets in peaceful demonstrations against Khartoum’s economic policies. “By enforcing the recent price increases, the regime has publicly declared its defiance of the will of the people”, the Sudanese Congress Party said in a press statement on Friday. The activist opposition party called on “the political parties, civil society organisations, youth organisations, students and all the Sudanese to rise up and face the challenge of change by peaceful means, through a popular revolution whose main demand is the ousting of the [current] Salvation regime.”

 

[The NCP/NIF regime will not tolerate demonstrations, peaceful or otherwise: once people see how many feel as they do about the hardships the regime is imposing, solidarity will grow. Will violence by the police, security forces, and perhaps even the military succeed in crushing the demonstrations? We will learn much in the days and weeks ahead. Injuries, including to children, have already been reported. There will be blood…ER]

 

The National Umma Party said in a statement on Friday as well that the recent price increases have crossed a red line. The party called on “the Sudanese people and all forces interested in change to oppose the budget by all peaceful means in order to halt the regime’s absurd measures, its disregard for the people, its failure, corruption, and tyranny.”

 

The Communist Party of Sudan warned for “a growing sense of injustice and marginalisation in the country,” and criticised the allocation of most of the resources to “the centre and the security establishment.”

 

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction headed by Malik Agar, called on all Sudanese to resist the new “impoverishment budget” by forming “ the widest front possible.”

 

Ali Mahmoud Hassanein, the head of Sudan’s National Front, called for “a peaceful and decisive uprising to bring down the regime as it cannot longer provide a basic necessity like bread.”

 

[4] Sudan’s Economic Crisis Reaches the Tipping Point
 

Eric Reeves   |   January 6, 2018   |   https://wp.me/p45rOG-2bo

 

These sudden, massive increases in the price of flour—and thus of bread—will inevitably lead to additional civil society outrage and unrest in Sudan; the protests of yesterday are only the first of what will likely exceed those of September 2013, during which more than 200 people were killed after the NIF/NCP regime ordered “shoot to kill orders,” a fact confirmed by Amnesty International and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies. An extremely violent response by regime to current protests against the regime’s catastrophic economic policies—crystallized in the new 2018 budget—is inevitable.

 

When the bloody tyranny that has ruled Sudan ruthlessly since its military coup of June 1989 finally goes, the means will be civil society actions, including demonstrations of the sort reported today by Sudan Tribune.

 

The failure of the international community to warn the regime off its brutally repressive measures constitutes passive acceptance, a de facto “green light” to what we will see in the coming days and weeks.

 

• Scattered protests erupt in Sudan over economic woes | Sudan Tribune | January 5, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – Sporadic protests have erupted on Friday in Khartoum and the Gazira State in central Sudan against the recent government decision to increase the bread price. On Friday, bakeries raised the price of a loaf of bread from 50 cents to 1 Sudanese pound following a government decision to increase the price of flour sack from 167 pounds to 450 pounds. The government decision was part of tough economic measures contained in the 2018 budget which also saw the lifting of electricity subsidies as well as increasing the U.S. dollar exchange rate to 18.00 pounds from the official rate of 6.7.

 

 [Given the new, dramatic, and overnight increases in flour prices—and thus bread prices—civil society outrage will spread quickly throughout Sudan—the potential for an even more massive popular uprising than that of September 2013 is clearly present. These demonstrations are certain to spread—ER]  

 

Several neighbourhoods in the Sudanese capital including Al-Sahafa, Al-Kalakla, Al-Giraif and Burri on Friday witnessed limited demonstrations where the protesters burned car tires to block some streets. Also, police on Friday used tear gas and batons cautiously to disperse protesters in the neighbourhoods of Al-Mazad, Shendi Foug, Al-Hilla Al-Jadida and Al-Dibaga in Wad Medani, capital of the Gezira State.

 

There were reports that several protesters have been injured and unknown numbers were captured by the security forces. To quell anti-austerity protests in Khartoum, Sudanese security forces in September 2013 carried out a brutal crackdown on the peaceful demonstration, killing nearly two hundred protesters say human rights groups or 86 people according to government figures.

 

On Thursday, the opposition called on the Sudanese people to take to streets to protests against the unprecedented rise in the cost of living and commodity price. Opposition forces attribute the deteriorating living condition and economic meltdown to corruption, lack of production policies, and lack of economic reform vision following the secession of South Sudan.

 

• Sudan’s bread price through the roof as of today | Radio Dabanga | January 5, 2018 | SUDAN

 

Khartoum has increased the price of flour, and it more than tripled in several states of the country which has been hit by the bread shortage. Bakeries closed their doors or will sell one bread instead of two for the same price, starting today. Bakeries reported that sacks of flour of 50 kilograms went up from 165 ($23.40) a piece to 550 Sudanese pounds ($78), an increase of 333 per cent.

 

The new price increase coincides with the flour crisis that hit large areas of the capital Khartoum and other Sudanese cities, including Wad Madani, Port Sudan and areas of the states River Nile, Kassala, Darfur, Kordofan, and Northern State. Mohamed Awad El Saeed is a member of the bakeries’ union in Khartoum state. Yesterday he confirmed that the bakeries have received flour at the new price. “We have to start selling one bread instead of two for a Pound as of Friday.”

On Thursday residents in Omdurman city told Radio Dabanga about the long lines in front of the bakeries throughout the day. “The city has witnessed a scarcity of bread for days and reached its peak on Wednesday evening.” A number of bakeries was closed during that day and evening because of the depletion of the quotas of flour that are allocated to them by the state and flour distributors.

 

People in El Gezira state reported that “the severe bread crisis” entered its fifth day without seeing a solution from the authorities. A resident of Wad Madani told this station: “We have to stand in long queues to get bread, but not more than 20 breads per person.” Also here, a number of bakeries closed their doors because of the lack of flour. “The price of bread sold by street vendors has amounted to one Pound a piece.”

 

Port Sudan bakeries close

 

Most of the bakeries in Port Sudan closed on Thursday because of the price hike.Sources told Radio Dabanga that on Wednesday, bakery owners in Port Sudan refused to receive the flour quotas which came at the new price of SDG 452 ($64) for a sack of flour instead of SDG 178 ($25). Residents of El Duweim, White Nile state, also complained of the general rise of consumer good prices and the scarcity of bread.

 

Reporting closed bakeries

 

Some bakeries in Khartoum, Wad Madani and Atbara placed posters noting that the price of bread would rise because of the increase in flour prices. The Ministry of Finance, Economy and Consumer Affairs of Khartoum called on the popular committees in all state districts and residents to report any bakery that is closed.

[This is yet another example of the Khartoum regime not addressing a critical economic issue, but “shooting the messenger” who carries information about catastrophic results of this neglect: the bakeries are the “messenger,” and the closings are dictate by the high prices and shortages of flour, a direct result of regime policies—ER]

Medicine prices

 

Meanwhile the Sudanese Communist Party has warned of a health disaster in Sudan because of the rise of medicine prices and the state’s low spending on the health sector in the 2018 budget. The party called upon Sudanese people to object to the government policies “that lead to the further deterioration of the health sector.”

A pharmaceutical expert said that the next half-year will see the absence of new medicines in Sudan coupled with an emergence of fake medicines on the market.Khalid Wadelnur also said that there are approximately 400 companies and institutions in the country that sell medicines imported from abroad, instead of pharmaceutical companies which have been unable to import them.

 

Parliament expects an “impending disaster in the pharmaceutical sector” and announced that foreign companies have stopped supplying medical supplies and lifesaving and chronic disease medicines because of the accumulation of debts.

 

[This is also soon to be a source of growing civil society outrage, as members of the regime and its cronies continue to enjoy full access to any and all pharmaceuticals—ER]

 

[5] The Khartoum Regime Declares “States of Emergency” as 2018 Budget Is Released
 

Eric Reeves | December 31, 2017 | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2bc

The Khartoum regime is now declaring “state of emergency” as a way of preparing the for massive protests that will follow promulgation of the disastrous 2018 budget, with its crushing effects on ordinary Sudanese. Politicians throughout Sudan see clearly the real reasons for regime declaring of “states of emergency”—and they understand that the same measures will likely spread soon to other regions beyond those reported today by Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune:

• Khartoum imposes State of Emergency in Kassala, North Kordofan | Radio Dabanga | December 31, 2017 | EL OBEID / KASSALA | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/sudan-state-of-emergency-imposed-in-kassala-north-kordofan

 

The disarmament campaign has been extended to North Kordofan and Kassala. On Saturday, Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir imposed the State of Emergency in these two states. Activists and politicians doubt the reasons for the measure. Politicians and activists in North Kordofan wonder why the State of Emergency has to be imposed for the arms collection. “In reality, Khartoum wants to further restrict our fundamental rights and freedoms under the pretext of collecting weapons,” an activist told Radio Dabanga from the capital of El Obeid. “They just need the State of Emergency to suppress renewed protests against the sky-rocketing prices.

 

Lawyer Osman Saleh also rejected the idea. “The Sudanese Constitution conditions a declaration of a State of Emergency with disasters and epidemics or foreign intervention.” He expects as well that the government will use the State of Emergency “to tighten its suppression on the currently developing public unrest because of the scarcity of bread and fuel and the crazy price rises.”

 

In Kassala, protests were also heard. Mohamed El Hassan Iheimir, Head of the Unified National Unionist Party in Kassala state told this station that the declaration of the State of Emergency “constitutes an attempt to curtail freedoms under the guise of arms collection. “Implementing such a measure aims to cut the way for any possible street protests from against the passage of the 2018 budget, the repeated sharp rise of basic consumer prices, and the escalating fuel and wheat shortages,” he said. “Moreover, the State of Emergency will lead to a complete paralysis of the political life in Kassala.” The party leader stated that the authorities do not need the State of Emergency for its disarmament campaign. “Khartoum has been distributing weapons to its loyal tribes and militias, so they know exactly where and from whom they collect the weapons.”

Iheimir also reported that the police has prohibited the Unified National Unionist Party from organising an event celebrating Sudan’s Independence Day [1 January 1956] at a public square in Kassala… “The party met all the required conditions as we have informed the police eight days before the event would take place – although the law provides for only three-day prior notification,” he said. “The prohibition is clearly an attempt to suppress dissenting opinions.”

 

• Sudan’s president declares state of emergency in North Kordofan and Kassala | Sudan Tribune, Khartoum | December 31, 2017 | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64379

 

Excerpts:

 

Also, there were reports that the state of emergency will be imposed in some of the central states including the capital, Khartoum not for the purpose of supporting the disarmament campaign but to counter possible protests that could erupt against the tough economic measures in the 2018 budget that was deposited to the parliament last week.

 

It is noteworthy that demonstrations broke out in several Sudanese states in September 2013 following the government’s decision to lift fuel subsidies. Rights groups said that at least 200 people were killed but the government put the death toll at 85.  

 

[6] Economic Collapse is Accelerating in Sudan—and so is the potential for explosive civil unrest, and equally massive, violent repression by Khartoum regime
 

Eric Reeves   |   December 27, 2017   |  https://wp.me/p45rOG-2b1

 

The collapse of the Sudanese economy continues to accelerate—yet there is no international reporting on developments that could spark massive civil unrest and equally massive, violent repression by regime. IMF silence is particularly disgraceful. All the warning signs are here, and the explosion could dwarf that of September 2013 when the regiome precipitously lifted subsidies on fuel.

• Economist: “Sudan’s real inflation rate tops 50%” | Radio Dabanga | December 27, 2017 | CAIRO / KHARTOUM | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/economist-sudan-s-real-inflation-rate-tops-50

 

The Sudanese government’s official increase in the US Dollar price from SDG 6.6 to SDG 18 is as a step towards floating the Sudanese Pound and liberalising the US Dollar price, according to a leading expert on Sudan’s Economy. “The real inflation rate in Sudan now exceeds 50 per cent,” says Prof Hamid Eltigani, head of the Department of Public Policy and Administration at the American University in Cairo. In an interview with Radio Dabanga, Prof Eltigani attributed the Sudanese government’s official Dollar price to controlling the four billion US Dollars in reserves in the banks.

 

“The budget of 2018 as a real disaster,” he said, pointing out that “68 per cent of the revenues depend on taxes and 32 per cent on borrowing; whether from the banking sector or from countries. Oil and gold will exit the budget altogether.”

 

Prof Eltigani doubts the government’s ability to collect taxes covering 68 per cent of the budget and pointed to the steady decrease in the tax base due to the recession, the weakness of purchasing power, the high inflation rates, and the continuous increase in commodity prices. He highlights the absence of development from the budget of 2018 as “the Sudanese government has officially abandoned spending on services, especially education and health, with emphasis on the first item of wages, government spending, and increased spending on security and the army.”

 

Prof Eltigani ridiculed statements by Finance Minister Dr Mohamed Osman El Rikabi that the aim of the budget is to reduce inflation rates from 34.1 percent to 19.5 percent. He said it is impossible to lower the inflation rates while the government is continues to borrow from the banking sector by printing more currency. He questions the official government figures for inflation rates and pointed out that the real inflation rates in Sudan exceed 50 per cent. “The new budget will lead to a continuous increase in the prices of commodities including flour and fuel. The only way out of the current situation is structural changes in the governance and the way the economy is managed.

Ibrahim El Sheikh, the former President of Sudanese Congress Party, described the economic situation as “very grim” and considered that   [NB]   “all the vital indicators indicate that Sudan is about to collapse.”

 

• Most fuel stations closed in Port Sudan, bakeries shut | Radio Dabanga | December 27, 2017 | SUDAN | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/most-fuel-stations-closed-in-port-sudan-bakeries-shut

 

The ongoing severe fuel and cooking gas shortage in Port Sudan resulted in most fuel stations in Port Sudan shutting down on Tuesday. Gas-fired bakeries have also stopped operating. Journalist Osman Hashim told Radio Dabanga that long queues of vehicles wait at the fuel stations all day long. Gas-fired bakeries have also stopped working because of the cooking gas crisis. According to Hashim, the station agents attributed the crisis to the delay in the discharge of the fuel tankers in Port Sudan.

West Darfur

 

The residents of three villages in Jebel Moon in West Darfur have complained of a severe drinking water crisis. One of the residents told Radio Dabanga that the villages of Manjoura, Jamal Arseif and Fareeda have no water engines or hand pumps. He said they rely on underground wells whose water has dried up prompting them to travel long distances to fetch water from the surrounding areas. He appealed to the authorities to establish water engines and provide hand pumps…

Prices surge

 

The Red Sea state in eastern Sudan is witnessing a surge in prices and an unprecedented rise in the prices of basic commodities. A number of farmers from the Northern state have complained of the sudden and large increase in electricity tariffs for agricultural projects amounting to 1,000 per cent. They have expected failure of the winter season of growing wheat, Egyptian beans and a number of cash crops. Some factory owners have threatened to stop working if electricity tariffs are increased.

The secretary-general of the union of chambers of industry, Abbas Ali El Sayed, told a news conference that the price of a ton of iron will rise from SDG 15,000 to SDG 20,000 and an iron bar from SDG 100 to SDG 300. Last week, petrol stations in Khartoum witnessed long queues for the third day in a row. On Tuesday and Wednesday, hundreds of people waited in vain for transport at bus stations in Omdurman, Khartoum North, and Khartoum.

 

A government source has attributed the scarcity of fuel to delays in shipments through Port Sudan. NISS officers have warned the Sudanese media by telephone not to report about the scarcity of bread and fuel in the country.

 

[The regime’s response to the economic crisis is to continue with its policy of “shooting the messenger,” rather than addressing the problems. Repression has always been the tool of first resort for the regime–ER]

 

• Sudan: new measures against Forex speculation | Radio Dabanga | December 27 – 2017 KHARTOUM / OMDURMAN | https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/sudan-new-measures-against-forex-speculation

 

On Tuesday the Sudanese Finance Ministry revealed new security and administrative measures to prevent speculation in foreign currency. In a press statement at the Houses of Parliament in Omdurman on Tuesday, the State Minister at the Ministry of Finance Abdelrahman Dirar said that “there will be new security and administrative measures to prevent speculation in foreign currency.” Dirar also declared that “the government will stop buying the US Dollar from the parallel market.”

Parallel [black market] price

 

In a press statement of Tuesday, the Director of the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS), Hazim Abdelgadir, announced an agreement between the bank and the Ministry of Finance that the Ministry will buy foreign currency, especially the US Dollar from the bank at the parallel market price instead of the official price. He stressed willingness to provide the amounts needed by the Finance Ministry. “The Ministry is used to buying the US Dollar from the Central Bank at the official price which was creating problems.”

Forex dealers fear arrest

 

Foreign currency dealers said there is great fear when dealing directly with their customers after the penalties and security measures adopted by the authorities in November, in an attempt to stem the unofficial foreign exchange market. The measures have seen currency dealers being arrested, while others fled abroad.

In early December, the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) ordered banks to freeze the assets of dozens of Sudanese people and companies. The State Security Prosecution charged them for trading currencies, against the instructions of the CBoS. In an attempt to boost foreign currency reserves, the CBoS has also instructed all banks in Sudan to hand over remittances by Sudanese expatriates abroad in the same currency as the transfer. 

 

Responsibility

 

No international actor has been more irresponsible than the IMF in warning about Sudan’s economic collapse:

 

“Mr. Edward Gemayel, the IMF’s Mission Chief for Sudan noted that ‘Sudan has a long track record of implementing sustainable economic policies.'” | http://www.4-traders.com/news/IMF-International-Monetary-Fund-Press-Release-Sudan-Meeting-of-the-Technical-Working-Group-on-E–17345158/

From Radio Dabanga (December 2017)

  • Prices soar, bakeries shut in Sudan bread, fuel crisis | December 29, 2017 | SUDAN

The knock-on effect of the steady rise in the price of the US Dollar on Sudan’s currency market continues to impact on prices of consumer goods on markets in Khartoum and the other states. Bread, fuel, and cooking gas prices have soared due to short supply.

  • Analyst: Sudan’s draft 2018 budget “tragic and catastrophic,” December 28, 2017 | KHARTOUM

Sudan’s draft general budget for 2018 represents “as a siege on citizens’ livelihood as a result of rising prices, high inflation rate, increasing cash mass, and demand for goods and commodities for the privileged segment,” says respected Sudanese economist Prof Sidgi Kaballo.

  • Economist: “Sudan’s real inflation rate tops 50%,” December 27, 2017 | CAIRO / KHARTOUM

The Sudanese government’s official increase in the US Dollar price from SDG 6.6 to SDG 18 is as a step towards floating the Sudanese Pound and liberalising the US Dollar price, according to a leading expert on Sudan’s Economy.

  • Most fuel stations closed in Port Sudan, bakeries shut,| December 27, 2017 | SUDAN

The ongoing severe fuel and cooking gas shortage in Port Sudan resulted in most fuel stations in Port Sudan shutting down on Tuesday. Gas-fired bakeries have also stopped operating.

  • Large spending on army: Economists criticise 2018 budget, December 26, 2017 | KHARTOUM

The draft annual budget for 2018 for Sudan allocates a high percentage of revenue to the army, security service and paramilitary forces similarly to in 2017. Just three per cent of the budget is allocated to education.

  • Long queues at Sudan’s bakeries, fuel stations, December 22, 2017 | SUDAN

The severe bread and fuel crisis is still being reported from various states in Sudan.

  • Widespread bread shortages, Sudan fuel crisis halts transport, December 21, 2017 | SUDAN

Khartoum and a number of Sudanese states are experiencing a severe bread and fuel crisis. Transport has ground to a halt leaving many stranded.

  • Short rations deepen food shortage in Darfur camps, December 20, 2017 | DARFUR

The Darfur Displaced and Refugees Association complains that little food aid has reached the displaced camps in Darfur for more than four months. The Association has warned of the consequences of this and its impact on the displaced people in the light of the failure of the agricultural season this year.

  • MPs warn parliament for looming food gap in Sudan, December 19, 2017 | KHARTOUM

Sudanese members of parliament have warned for a looming food gap in Sudan as a result of the low production of sorghum in the current agricultural season.

  • Sudan Parliamentary Health Committee predicts ‘impending disaster’ as medicine prices soar, December 18, 2017 | KHARTOUM

The health committee of the Sudanese Parliament expects an ‘impending disaster in the pharmaceutical sector’ and announced that foreign companies have stopped supplying medical supplies and lifesaving and chronic disease medicines because of the accumulation of debts. The committee chair, Imtithal El Rayah El Tireif, acknowledged that medicine prices have increased threefold, putting them beyond people’s affordability.

  • Flour shortage sees long queues at bakeries in Sudan, December 17, 2017 | SAWAKIN / ATBARA / EL OBEYED

The residents of Sawakin in Sudan’s Red Sea State have complained of a severe bread crisis that has lasted for more than a month. People must queue at bakeries for many hours in the hope of buying some bread. Some bakeries have shut-down altogether.

  • Sudan’s currency traders fearful as US Dollar tops SDG 26.20, December 17, 2017 | KHARTOUM

The value of the Sudanese Pound (SDG) continues to fall against the US Dollar, with the greenback now trading at SDG 26.20 on the Khartoum parallel market. Foreign currency dealers said there is great fear when dealing directly with their customers after the penalties and security measures adopted by the authorities in November, in an attempt to stem the unofficial foreign exchange market.

  • “Trade monopoly” pushes-up grain prices in eastern Sudan, December 17, 2017 | EL GEDAREF

The prices for sorghum and sesame have risen sharply in Sudan’s El Gedaref – a hike attributed to a limited number of traders controlling the market.

  • Refinery shutdown: Fuel crisis looms in Sudan, December 13, 2017 | OMDURMAN

Economists have predicted the Sudan will face a serious fuel crisis in the coming months following the scheduled shutdown of the Khartoum refinery in early March for maintenance and the final decommissioning of the Port Sudan refinery. Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee of the Sudan Parliament, Ali Mahmoud, has attributed the economic problems experienced by the country to “the government buying US Dollars from the black market for the purpose of buying oil. This led to the decrease of the Sudanese Pound and the rise in prices of consumer goods.”

  • Thousands of wheat fields dry up in Sudan agricultural scheme, December 12, 2017 | EL GEZIRA

A lack of irrigation water has caused at least 60,000 acres of wheat fields in El Gezira Agricultural Scheme to dry up. Member of Parliament Adlan Mahmoud reported the lack of irrigation water in El Gezira scheme, located between the Blue and White Niles south of Khartoum, which used to be one of the world’s largest irrigation project.

  • Medicine shortage a risk for patients in Sudan hospitals, December 11, 2017 | KHARTOUM

The prevalence of expired medicines in hospitals in Khartoum has reportedly led to direct health risks for patients. The current medicine crisis is exacerbating, with hospitals being unable to purchase medicines. Medical sources in Khartoum reported that the available dialysis solutions will be depleted within a week from now, which they think will pose a direct risk to kidney patients. They told Radio Dabanga that large quantities of expired injections have been withdrawn from the hospitals recently.

  • North Darfur drivers call for action against high transit fees, December 11, 2017 | UM KEDDADA

Passenger and commercial vehicles have complained about the levies imposed on them on the road between El Kuma and Um Keddada in North Darfur. El Ingaz road connects the two localities. Passing the toll gates, bus and vehicle drivers have to pay transit fees to security or militia forces.

  • Pharmacists warn of medicine scarcity in Sudan, December 8, 2017 | KHARTOUM

While medicine prices increase, some life-saving medicines have become scarce in Khartoum and other states. Patients and their attendants complained that medicines have become unaffordable.

Some medicines prices have exceeded the price issued that the board of medicines issues in 2016, pharmacist Awad Mohamed said. “The price of Atakat tablets for blood pressure has risen from SDG 280 ($41.70) to SDG 418 ($62.30). The price for one of the categories of diabetes drugs has risen from SDG 550 ($82) to SDG 1037 ($154.60).”

  • Sudan food prices soar, December 3, 2017 | KHARTOUM / EL FASHER / SAWAKIN

The prices of foodstuffs and consumer goods, especially meat and sugar, have soared in various Sudanese states, as demand exceeds supply. Last week the price of a kilogramme of beef in Khartoum rose from SDG 70 ($10,50) to SDG 100 ($15) and lamb from SDG 130 ($20) to SDG 150 ($22,50).

 

[7] Sudan’s economy has entered a melt-down phase
 

Eric Reeves  |  December 21, 2017  |  https://wp.me/p45rOG-2aK

 

Sudan’s economy has entered a melt-down phase, and civil unrest is bound to follow; it will be met with ferocious repression, already evident in seizure of newspapers publishing economic data and NISS surveillance of fuel stations and bakeries. These are the consequences of decades of gross mismanagement:

• Widespread bread shortages, Sudan fuel crisis halts transport | Radio Dabanga | December 21, 2017 | SUDAN

 

Khartoum and a number of Sudanese states are experiencing a severe bread and fuel crisis. Transport has ground to a halt leaving many stranded. On Tuesday and Wednesday the main stations of El Shuhada in Omdurman, the central station in Khartoum North (Bahri), the stadium and Jackson in Khartoum were crowded with hundreds of people after the vehicles stopped because of lack of fuel.

 

Northern State

 

Witnesses from Karma in the Northern State said the security services are monitoring the fuel stations and allowing each person to take no more than three gallons. They explained that any quantities more than that must be certified by the security services.

 

El Gezira State

 

El Gezira state is experiencing a severe fuel and bread crisis. Residents of Wad Madani told Radio Dabanga about the lack of fuel at most of the city’s fuel stations except for three. They said the vehicles line up in long queues in front of the fuel stations since early morning. Wad Madani is daily witnessing a lack of bread during the evening and the price of a loaf of bread rises outside the bakeries to one Pound by the evening.

 

Sennar State

 

Residents of Senga in Sennar have complained of lack of fuel in the stations as a result of the lack of access to the state’s fuel quota. They also complain of the deepening bread crisis in the city during the past two days. They said that the security services limit people from taking more than a few of bread for a family without permission.

South Kordofan State

 

Abu Jubeiha in South Kordofan is experiencing a severe bread crisis. People said that there is no bread to be found in the bakeries after 10 am. The owners of bakeries attributed the crisis to the fact that the quota of flour given to them by economic security is only three sacks a day.

El Gedaref State

 

The bread crisis in El Gedaref has entered its second month without finding a solution from the authorities. The residents said they stand in long lines in front of bakeries for hours without getting enough bread. They say that a number of bakeries are closed during day and evening periods because of the reduction of the daily quota of flour.

North Kordofan State

 

Residents of El Obeid in North Kordofan have renewed their complaint about the worsening of bread crisis. They said they there are no looming signs for resolving the crisis. The press leaders have received instructions by telephone from the security services not to publish any press material on the bread and fuel crisis in many cities of the country.

 

[This is a portrait of an economy in melt-down: two critical commodities—bread and fuel—are unavailable because the Khartoum regime has so badly mismanaged the economy, including the agricultural sector, that there is no enough hard currency, foreign exchange currency (Forex), to purchase imports of flour and refined petroleum products, including diesel fuel.

 

The regime made developed no significant domestic refining capacity during the years it was flush with petro-dollars (1999 – 2011); it has allowed the agricultural sector of the economy to decay so that instead of being a net exporter of agricultural products, Sudan is a net importer especially of wheat for flour to make into bread, now in such short supply. 

 

Mismanagement, misplaced priorities, and fantastically gross self-enrichment have left ordinary people of Sudan without a critical food item or the ability to move within and between cities. Essential medicines are unavailable as well. The absurdity of blaming U.S. economic sanctions for the crisis is coming fully into focus, despite the foolish and ignorant pronouncements by the UN, IMF, and others.

 

And yet if the U.S. State Department lifts the designation of Khartoum as a “state sponsor of terrorism” this May, Khartoum will become eligible for international debt relief: Sudan’s external debt now exceeds $50 billion and cannot be serviced, let alone repaid, by the regime amidst its current self-inflicted economic crisis. Past history makes clear that debt relief will be little more than a tool for accelerated self-enrichment by the regime and its cronies–ER] 

http://sudanreeves.org/2018/01/09/sudans-economic-catastrophe-a-compendium-of-very-recent-reports/

 

(c) 2018 SUDAN Research, Analysis, and Advocacy

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