Sudan approves fuel subsidy cut
Sunday, 17 June 2012 14:02 GMT
Sudan’s ruling party endorsed a number of drastic economic measures the government intends to enforce including the partial removal of oil subsidies which is seen as highly unpopular.
The government was facing strong resistance from parliament together with leading members in the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) who since last January, have been hostile to the scrapping of oil subsidies saying it would encourage protest and unrest in the country.
The national budget deficit has reached $2.4 billion and the government failed to find other resources to bridge this gap despite the support provided by some Arab countries.
The National Shura Council of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) adopted Saturday a series of measures proposed to overcome the current crisis after the loss of financial revenue from oil produced by South Sudan.
These drastic measures include reform of the government structures of both national and regional institutions, increase in national income, decrease in internal spending and reduction in the need for hard currency.
The move allows the government to propose concrete decisions to be discussed in the Cabinet as some require the vote of the national parliament.
The lifting of oil subsidies will be partial in a way that does not greatly affect low-income families which are already suffering from inflation caused by the devaluation of the national currency.
Commenting on the decisions of the meeting, presidential assistant and NCP deputy chairman Nafie Ali Nafie stressed that the partial lifting of subsidies, which will be between 10 to 40 percent, means that the state will continue to subsidise commodities.
He also said his party has launched consultations with allied political parties of the national government to reduce their participation at the national and regional levels.
Speaking about the probable political upheaval across the country as a result of the removal of oil subsidies, Nafie said the opposition has been working to bring down the government and they think that these economic measures represent a golden opportunity for them.
"But their expectations will be disappointed," he said, stressing his confidence that the austerity measures will strengthen the government.
In a separate development, President Omar Bashir reaffirmed on Saturday Sudan’s rejection to negotiate a buffer zone on the common border with South Sudan unless it is based on the map agreed by the two parties when the independence of the new state was declared.
Speaking before a meeting of the National Shura Council of the ruling National Congress Party, Bashir said Sudan objected to the map prepared by the mediation in a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) held in November 2011, because it identifies an areas called 14 miles, located south of Bahr Al-Arab or Kiir River, as a "disputed area".
The president further underscored that despite this objection, some African Union officials falsified the position and said that the government of Sudan had" accepted this map".
"There are some conspirators at the Secretariat who hid this letter concerning Sudan’s objections from the chairman of the (African Union High Level) Panel, President (Thabo) Mbeki" adding that Sudan contested this map in a letter to the UN Security Council, emphasising that the two parties "previously agreed on four disputed areas and this fifth area was added by the African mediation without its consent." He concluded by saying there would be no talk and no negotiation on the security arrangements "unless an agreement is reached on the line that separates the two countries in accordance with the borders of January 1, 1956".