Thursday, September 17, 2020

Sudan's Inflation

 Millions of people in Sudan are facing hardship as the cost of food and transport soars amid economic turmoil in the country. The government declared a state of economic emergency last week after a sharp fall in currency. Reuters reported on Tuesday that the Sudanese pound had dropped to 234 against the dollar, from 140 the previous month.

The cost of some staple foods has increased by 50% over the past few weeks, driving inflation to a record high of 167%, up from 144% in July.

The price of sugar had risen from 100 to 150 Sudanese pounds (about £1.40 to £2.10) in the past two weeks, while a loaf of bread can cost two pounds in Khartoum and up to seven times more outside the capital. Beef has increased from 500 Sudanese pounds in June to 800 pounds this month.

In April, the government raised the minimum wage from 245 to 3,000 Sudanese pounds, the largest increase in salaries in the country’s history. But the move was “funded by printing more money, because there are no resources”, said Hafiz Ibrahim, an economist based in Khartoum.

The country is also grappling with recent devastating floods, which killed at least 99 people and affected more than half a million, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Reuters, the government is still waiting for the promised $400m financial package from donors that is to be administered by the World Bank.

El Obaien, 38, who works at the ministry of health in Khartoum, said he’s eating less and has stopped going out as often due to the rise in transport costs.

“I reduced the meals that I have per day, and I stopped thinking about the quality of food. I just eat anything that would be cheap enough and I can afford,” he said. “I don’t go out except when necessary, and when I do so I try to do all the things on the same day just to reduce the expenses of the transportation.”

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