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Sudan passes 2020 budget as deficit widens

December 29, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The Provisional Legislative Council in Sudan composed of the Council of Ministers and the Sovereign Council approved on Sunday evening the national budget 2020, with a total deficit of 73 billion pounds ($1.62 billion).

Al-Badawi presents his 2020 budget wearing Sudanese traditional dress on 27 Dec 2019 (SUNA photo)

The joint meeting endorsed Sudan’s first budget after the collapse of al-Bashir after discussions that lasted for several hours.

The budget had been previously amended upon the request of the ruling coalition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) to freeze the liberalization of fuel prices for three months.

In press statements after the meeting, Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Badawi gave Key figures in the budget for 2020 saying that the revenue estimates for next year amounted to 568.3 billion pounds, adding it is considered them a "big jump" from the estimated revenues last year.

He pointed out that the current expenses amount to 584.4 billion pounds so that the current deficit (revenues minus expenses) is about 16.1 billion pounds.

He stated that "the total budget deficit reaches 73 billion pounds."

The minister revealed the increase in the defence budget from 33.88 billion pounds to 50.578 billion pounds, but he underscored that the ratio of defence allocation to total expenses declined from 9% to 7%.

"This means that this budget heralds peace and focuses on education, health and social services," he added.

Al-Badawi said that the total spending on education, defence, health, housing and social protection represents 34% of the budget.

He further stressed that commodity subsidies take 36% of the 2020 budget, in a way to respond to criticisms addressed to his liberal approach.

The minister referred to the deal reached with the FFC providing to maintain the fuel subsidies for three months saying it was agreed to discuss the matter in a conference next March due to its political and economic impact.

The Sudanese transitional government counts on donor conference in April to cover the 2020 deficit as donors are expected to fund some development projects.

Washington is also expected to remove Sudan from the terror list opening the door for discussions with international financial institutions for loans and support for the Sudanese government.

(ST)

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