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Sudan postpones lifting of fuel subsidies for 3 months

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Drivers queue up in their vans for fuel at a gas station in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on December 21, 2013 (Photo AFP /Ashraf Shazly)
December 28, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The ruling coalition Freedom and Change Forces and the transitional Sudanese government agreed to postpone the removal of fuel subsidies until March 2020, pending a satisfactory agreement on the issue by all parties.

The transitional government on Friday announced the outlines of its 2020 budget including scrapping fuel subsidies and replaced it with direct subventions for poor families.

The government decision to float fuel prices is seen by the government as the most significant move to stabilize the deteriorating economy and shows its resolve to promote reforms, ahead of a donor conference in April.

However, several FFC groups declared their rejection of the unpopular measure saying it will raise the inflation, and that the established safety nets cannot protect poor families if the oil prices rise again in the international market.

Speaking to the media after a joint meeting between the cabinet and the FFC leaders on Saturday evening, the government spokesman and Minister of Information, Faisal Mohamed Saleh said that the government decided to freeze its plan to scrap fuel subsidy until an economic conference to held next March.

For his part, the Minister of Industry, Madani Abbas, said that the discussion with the FFC focused on the gradual lifting of fuel subsidies.

"In recognition of the importance of social dialogue and the need to deepening studies on the issue of subsidies, having the conviction that the subsidies in their current form are subject to a lot of criticism in terms of fairness and distribution as they do not include all groups and segments of society and to create more social and political consensus on the budget, the Cabinet decided that subsidies and other issues should be postponed to reach a consensus around it."

He further announced a meeting between the Sovereign Council and the Council of Ministers on Sunday to discuss and approve the budget after agreeing to it.

The minister of finance and economic planning did not comment on the decision, as he had been defending his plan during the past months.

For his part, Ibrahim al-Sheikh, FFC leadership council spokesman told reporters that they agreed with the Council of Ministers on all budget items, stressing that 2020 budget is a victory for the hopes and the aspirations of the Sudanese people.

He further stressed that it is the first budget for the revolution after the collapse of the al-Bashir regime to achieve the slogan of Freedom, Peace and Justice.

(ST)

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