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Military business activities are "unacceptable," says Sudan’s Hamdok


December 14, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok voiced his opposition to the military business activities in the economic sector and described it as "unacceptable".

The former regime weakened the national economy and promoted corruption through the development of military businesses as it now controls over 250 big companies working in vital economic production areas such gold mining, Gum Arabic, meat exportation, flour milling industry, sesame etc...

These enterprises are exempted from production and profit taxes and operating in total opacity.

The head of the transitional Sovereign Council and the commander in chief of the armed forces refuses to transfer these firms to the civilian government. Nonetheless, he accepted some transparency and to pay taxes.

"All armies of the world have a relationship with investment but in the defence fields. As for the investment of the military institution in the production sector, it is unacceptable," said Hamdok in a press conference about Sudan’s rescission from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list on Monday.

He pointed out that there are many proposals to deal with the current situation, including the transfer of the businesses of the military institution to public joint-stock companies to be managed professionally in total transparency under the oversight of the civilian government.

"Transparency is required in governmental companies, and the resources of the Sudanese people cannot be managed without transparency and accountability," he strongly emphasized.

The prime minister kept a low profile over this sensitive matter during the past period pushing his former minister of economy to say in July 2020 after his resignation that Hamdok was not enthusiastic to take the control of the military businesses.

In April 2020, the Prime Minister was briefed by the army about the activities of the industrial and commercial companies of the Sudanese army by the Military Industry Corporation (MIC)

At the time, military officials told Sudan Tribune that the meeting discussed the conversion of the business activities into public joint-stock companies under the Civil Code and observing the rules of transparency and oversight.

However, the military stressed that these companies would continue to belong to the army but they would not transfer it to the ministry of finance.

Hamdok welcomed the Sudan Democratic Transition, Accountability, and Fiscal Transparency Act of 2020 (SDTAFTA) which calls to transfer the business activities to the civilian government.

He said that this law is "important" and would help establish the democratic rule in the country, pointing out that they welcome all forms of assistance from the international community.

But it is important for Sudanese to complete their own experience, he further added.

The SDTAFTA is incorporated in the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2021 which was passed by the House and Senate by a veto-proof majority. But, the outgoing President Trump vowed to not sign it. So, it would just a matter of time before to be made effective by the Congress.

Shared responsibility

During his press conference, the prime minister appeared confident and combative, many observers said. Particularly when he played down recent statements by the head of the Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in which he spoke about the failure of the transitional government.

"If there is a failure in the transition government, then we will all bear it," he said alluding to the role of al-Burhan in this failure.

"But I am always optimistic and I look at the half-full part of the glass ... We have accomplished many things during the past period and failed in other things such as the economy, due to the quarrels over the past 9 months," he said.


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