Sudan lifts subsidy on wheat imports

2015-09-21 16:57

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Khartoum - Sudan on Monday announced it will no longer subsidise wheat imports nine months after promising to maintain the subsidy for 2015, and insisted that bread prices will not be affected.

The move follows a drop in worldwide wheat prices, State Minister for Finance Abdelrahman al-Darar told AFP.

"We have decreased the subsidy without affecting the people," he said, referring to the possible knock-on effect on the cost of bread.

In September 2013, Khartoum slashed fuel subsidies, sparking huge street protests - the worst urban unrest in Sudan in two decades - as retail prices soared by more than 60%.

Thousands of people, many of them poor, took to the streets calling for the downfall of President Omar al-Bashir's 24-year regime.

Soaring prices

Rights group Amnesty International said more than 200 demonstrators were killed when security forces crushed the demonstrations. The government gave a toll of fewer than 100.

In November 2013, a central bank hard currency shortfall meant Sudan was unable to import enough wheat, causing a bread shortage in the capital.

Sudan does not grow enough wheat to meet its needs, and imports 2.5 million tons of wheat annually.

The country will drop the subsidy for wheat imports by increasing a special US dollar/Sudanese pound exchange rate for the imports from 4 to 6 Sudanese pounds.

The central bank works on an exchange rate of 6 Sudanese pounds to the US dollar, while the black market rate is 10 Sudanese pounds to the US dollar.

The government announced last week that it would import 500 000 tons of wheat at the price of $279 a ton.

Sudanese have struggled to cope with soaring prices and a weak currency since South Sudan separated in July 2011, taking with it around 75% of the formerly united country's oil production.

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