Sudan’s Finance Minister, Ali Mahmoud, has admitted that the cost of living has become unbearably high following the recent economic measures taken by the government, leading to hikes in the prices of fuels, other goods and services.
The minister said, in an interview published Monday by the independent daily, Al-Rai Al-Aam (public opinion) Arabic daily newspaper, that even his monthly salary of US$ 1,200 was not enough to meet his family’s needs, including school fees for his children.
The economic reform package of September, which featured the withdrawal of fuel subsidies and a raise in the exchange rates, was intended to make good the budget deficit that resulted from missing billions of dollars in proceeds from the South Sudanese oil since 2011 when the South broke away.
This was the second economic reform measures since the secession. The first package was in June last year.
The minister said a third similar package would be introduced any time in 2014 when further subsidies would be removed from fuel.
He said, in order to avoid shock, government had to remove subsidies gradually, introducing the first cut in 2012 and the second in September.
“If we raised the gallon of benzene to 40 Sudanese pounds last September, the demonstrations would be going on until now,” the minister said, referring to the protests in which, according to government figures, over 70 people were killed and an unspecified number injured.
However, he predicted that the economic situation would improve next year when, according to him, the budget would receive US$ 2.4 billion in transition fees from the South Sudanese oil in addition to proceeds from agricultural, animal and gold exports.