Source: Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

January 13, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese Finance Minister Ibrahim al Badawi Monday revealed that his government received international pledges to support his country by about two billion dollars to convert to the direct cash support programme.

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Ibrahim al-Badawi (ST Photo)

"The international community promised to provide $ 2 billion to finance the programme during the first year of the transitional period," al-Badawi said.

Sudan's first budget under the post-al-Bashir area increased spending on health and education, preventing the imposition of any school fees, providing a free school meal for pupils in the country. Also, the budget guarantees free hospital treatment and increases salaries by 100%.

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Also, the government said it will continue to subsidise wheat and cooking gas subsidies, while fuel subsidies will be gradually lifted.

To protect vulnerable households, the government will transfer cash to poor people instead of subsidizing commodities which cost more money and encourage smuggling of cheap goods to neighbouring countries.

The minister, who was speaking at the Economic Reforms Forum at the University of Khartoum on Monday, stated that the ousted regime was not paying off the debts of the Arab funds, even though they are not bound by the terrorism sanction regulations.

He indicated that the transitional government paid about $ 7 million to the Arab Monetary Fund, and in return, Sudan received $ 70 million in support of trade.

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The Minister of Finance acknowledged that the budget "suffers from a very large imbalance" due to the government decision to postpone the lifting of subsidies.

He said that the budget allocated 34% to education, health, defence, social protection, housing and public utilities, out of the total national expenditures of 700.676 billion pounds.

The minister pointed out that commodity subsidies account for 36% of budget expenditures, and noted that the deficit amounts to 80 billion pounds.

He stressed that the deficit is within the "safe limits" of the possibility of financing it without significant inflationary effects.

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Al-Badawi confirmed the gradual lifting of gasoline subsidies from March to mid-year, while the final gradual lifting of gasoline will start in September and continue to September 2021.

He further said that all the figures set in the budget, especially grants and loans, were based on agreements with Arab funds.

The Minister assured that the budget would be secured in terms of revenue, although it was possible to “further enhance it” if an agreement was reached to gradually reduce the deficit resulting from subsidizing goods.

(ST)

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