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U.S. Congress links Sudan’s debt relief to fiscal transparency of security services


U.S. Congress (Reuters photo)
March 8, 2020 (WASHINGTON) - U.S. administration should link Sudan’s foreign debt cancellation to the full control of the civilian government over the finances and assets of the security and intelligence services says a bill by Congress members.

On Friday Congress members introduced a bipartisan bill to support the democratic transition in Sudan signed by Eliot L, Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Michael McCaul, the Committee’s Ranking Member; Karen Bass, Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Africa; and Chris Smith, the Subcommittee’s Ranking Member.

The bill which a first tangible move by the Congress in support to the Sudanese people after the ouster of the former regime authorizes assistance for democratic governance, rule of law, and human rights, including support for free, fair, and credible elections.

Further, it authorizes assistance for development programs, supports debt relief and multilateral financing from international financial institutions provided that certain governance and fiscal transparency benchmarks are met particularly in the management of industries and economic resources by the security and intelligence services.

"Upon the removal of Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of State shall, (...), engage with international financial institutions and other bilateral official creditors to advance agreement through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative to restructure, reschedule, or cancel the sovereign debt of Sudan ()," reads the Congressional bill.

However, this process cannot be engaged before "demonstrable steps to improve fiscal transparency" taken by the government of Sudan.

These measures include the government control of the finances and assets of the Sudanese security and intelligence services. Also, the government has to establish that the security and intelligence services are no longer involved in the "illicit trade in mineral resources, including petroleum and gold".

The government also has to identify the shareholdings in all public and private companies held or managed by the security and intelligence services and to transfer it to the finance ministry or any other public civilian entity established for this purpose.

In addition, the government has to develop a "transparent budget that includes all expenditures related to the security and intelligence services," stresses the bill.

The government has to establish and implement a methodology to recover the state assets and profits transferred to the banned National Congress Party of Omer al-Bashir or its officials.

During the 30-year era of the Islamist regime, the government enhanced the control of strategic industries, trade and telecommunications sector by the security services and the army.

Sudan’s finance and defence ministries reportedly have recently agreed to transfer all the non-military industries and companies under the control of the finance ministry.

Sudanese officials spoke about measures to retrieve deposits made into foreign banks by the Islamists leaders and figures of the former regime but they did not elaborate on where are the stolen funds.


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