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Khartoum forum recommends spending cuts, combating corruption

November 24, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese 1st Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha vowed to incorporate recommendations of Khartoum’s Second Economic Forum in the 2014 budget and establishing a follow-up mechanism for it.

Sudanese 1st Vice President Ali Osman Taha (AFP/Getty Images)

The two-day forum which concluded its works today was focused on ways to redeem the crisis-crippled economy. It called for slashing government spending and developing a comprehensive strategy for the economic sector in the next five years that would involve other political forces.

Taha who was addressing the closing session said that the forum is the culmination of the national government’s responsibility to address the economic crisis and the launch of a broader national contract and stressing the importance of the citizen’s role in the final decision-making process.

He called on research institutions to provide information and data so that the society is acquainted with the truth about the picture of the economic activity.

The forum which was inaugurated by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir recommended establishing a commission to fight corruption, increasing investment spending, reviewing the mechanisms of the Zakat and Endowments bodies, strengthening coordination between fiscal and monetary policies, restructuring the banking system, paying close attention to production and promotion of exports, working import substitution and activating the exchange-rate system.

The Sudanese Finance Minister Ali Mahmoud Abdel-Rasool said his government supports the recommendations of the forum particularly the one related to scaling down state structures and reducing salaries of government officials.

The recommendations did not address the government’s decision last September to cut fuel subsidies which raised gasoline and diesel prices by more than 60%.

Al-Mahi Khalafalla, member of the NCP economic sector, told the pro-government Ashorooq TV on Saturday that revoking the decision is possible should the economic forum recommend it.

The chairman of the preparatory committee of the economic forum, Tijani Al-Sissi, criticized the recent government decision saying it wouldn’t resolve the economic crisis, stressing the need for a comprehensive economic program.

Sudanese officials have said that the country faces bankruptcy unless it slashes subsidies which is eating up a large chunk of the already shrinking budget.

After South Sudan’s independence in mid-2011, Khartoum lost access to more than three-quarters of the oil reserves that were the main driver of an economic boom that lasted for much of the last decade.

Since then the government has struggled with a shortage of hard currency and revenue as the pound sank in value on the widely used black market and inflation soared.

The inflation rate officially reached 40% last month.

(ST)