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Friday, 04 December 2020

Sudan inflation hits new record in September as prices spike

Sudan's annual inflation has hit a new record peak as prices of bread and other staples keep surging, according to official figures released on Tuesday

AP , Wednesday 14 Oct 2020
Sudanese Market
Prices have soared in Sudan to hit inflation.(REUTERS)
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The country's Central Agency for Statistics said the annual inflation in September rose to 212.29% from 166.83% in August. The high record was driven by hikes in prices of bread and vegetables, and the jump in transportation fares, it said.

Inflation has been rising in Sudan since before the military's overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 amid a popular uprising. The economy has suffered from decades of U.S. sanctions and mismanagement under al-Bashir who had ruled the country since the 1989 Islamist-backed military coup.

The transitional government is struggling to revive the economy amid a huge budget deficit and widespread shortages of essential goods, including fuel, bread and medicine.

Sudan has close to $60 billion in foreign debt, and debt relief and access to foreign loans are widely seen as its gateway to economic recovery. But access to foreign loans is linked to the removal of sanctions related to the country's listing by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terror. President Donald Trump's administration has linked the removal from the list to normalizing relations with Israel, an issue that has divided the county's fragile interim government.

The International Monetary Fund last month signed off on the government's economic reform program, which could eventually allow Sudan to get debt relief and move ahead with rebuilding the battered economy. The reform program includes a gradual lifting of energy subsidies, which eat up 36% of the government's budget.

The national currency has plunged dramatically. The Sudanese pound has been selling for more than 250 to the dollar on the black market, with the official rate remaining at 57 Sudanese pounds to $1.

The coronavirus pandemic and recent seasonal flash floods have added to the calamity. Authorities in September declared an economic emergency, said the country was a natural disaster area and imposed a three-month state of emergency.

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