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IMF says momentum building for Sudan debt relief efforts

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January 19, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) revealed that several major donors expressed support to efforts aimed at securing debt relief for Sudan.

The IMF headquarters is seen in Washington. File Photo: AP

The IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told reporters during a virtual news conference that an assessment will be conducted in March to see where Sudan stands before deciding on next steps.

"We’re going to have an assessment in March on how the SMP [Staff Monitored Program] is advancing and we do hope as swiftly as possible to present to the membership a strong case on Sudan for HIPIC, so the country can reintegrate with the international community," Georgieva said.

The IMF top official added that they are encouraged by "the determination of the Sudanese authorities".

Sudan owes roughly $60 billion in debt and was practically barred from seeking debt relief because of its inclusion on US list of states that sponsor terrorism.

Washington took Sudan off the list officially last month which removed a major hurdle facing debt relief.

"I expect that in March, we will have more about Sudan and the prospects of real clearance and debt relief for the country," Georgieva said.

"I want to recognize that a number of countries, U.S., U.K., have indicated that once progress is made, they will, indeed, also step up grant support for Sudan," she added.

Sudan has been left out of the international financial system since the imposition of comprehensive US economic sanctions in 1997 which were subsequently lifted in 2017.

The Sudanese economy has deteriorated sharply since the ouster of former President Omer Hassan al-Bashir in April 2019 with inflation & exchange rate running in triple digits.

The International community now appears more enthusiastic towards assisting Sudan to get its finances in order than before Bashir’s ouster.

But Sudan is still required to undergo economic overhaul with specific benchmarks overseen by the IMF before it qualifies for debt relief.

Among the most urgent reforms asked for by the international community are lifting government subsidies on food and energy.

(ST)

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