Sudan — Khartoum has increased the price of flour, and it more than tripled in several states of the country which has been hit by the bread shortage. Bakeries closed their doors or will sell one bread instead of two for the same price, starting today.
Bakeries reported that sacks of flour of 50 kilograms went up from 165 ($23.40) a piece to 550 Sudanese pounds ($78), an increase of 333 per cent. The new price increase coincides with the flour crisis that hit large areas of the capital Khartoum and other Sudanese cities, including Wad Medani, Port Sudan and areas of the states River Nile, Kassala, Darfur, Kordofan, and Northern State.
Mohamed Awad El Saeed is a member of the bakeries' union in Khartoum state. Yesterday he confirmed that the bakeries have received flour at the new price. "We have to start selling one bread instead of two for a Pound as of Friday."
On Thursday residents in Omdurman city told Radio Dabanga about the long lines in front of the bakeries throughout the day. "The city has witnessed a scarcity of bread for days and reached its peak on Wednesday evening."
A number of bakeries was closed during that day and evening because of the depletion of the quotas of flour that are allocated to them by the state and flour distributors.
People in El Gezira state reported that "the severe bread crisis" entered its fifth day without seeing a solution from the authorities. A resident of Wad Medani told this station: "We have to stand in long queues to get bread, but not more than 20 breads per person."
Also here, a number of bakeries closed their doors because of the lack of flour. "The price of bread sold by street vendors has amounted to one Pound a piece."
Port Sudan bakeries close
Most of the bakeries in Port Sudan closed on Thursday because of the price hike. Sources told Radio Dabanga that on Wednesday, bakery owners in Port Sudan refused to receive the flour quotas which came at the new price of SDG 452 ($64) for a sack of flour instead of SDG 178 ($25).
Residents of El Duweim, White Nile state, also complained of the general rise of consumer good prices and the scarcity of bread.
Reporting closed bakeries
Some bakeries in Khartoum, Wad Medani and Atbara placed posters noting that the price of bread would rise because of the increase in flour prices.
The Ministry of Finance, Economy and Consumer Affairs of Khartoum called on the popular committees in all state districts and residents to report any bakery that is closed. Yesterday the secretary-general of the bakeries' union in Khartoum state, Badreldin El Jalal, called on all the bakery owners not to stop working. "In case you have to stop, report it immediately so that the union can help overcome the obstacles," he said in a press statement.
"This price increase impacts the purchasing power of Sudanese citizens." - Dr. Faisal Awad
Quotas of flour provided from flour distributors to bakeries have been reduced for months, and Khartoum has resorted to increasing the bread price. In September last year however, an economic expert predicted that "price instability and high inflation would lead to widespread resentment among people."
Economic analyst Dr. Faisal Awad warned of the consequences of the increase in the price of flour and pointed to the impact it has on the purchasing power of Sudanese people in an exclusive interview with Radio Dabanga.
"The government's policies and economic practices are bad. There is an inflation of the administrative apparatus of the state, a high rate of spending on security and defence, and corruption is spreading," Awad said.
The current rise in the price of flour is not a liberalisation of the market, he pointed out, as domestic wheat prices are much higher than worldwide wheat prices.
Abdelhadi Abdallah, an expert on the Sudanese economy, warned of the negative impacts of liberalising the wheat commodity. He explained that the quantities of wheat that are produced locally do not meet the consumption demand of the Sudanese.
Abdallah proposed a five-year plan, including a 20 per cent annual increase in wheat production, that coincides with a 20 per cent reduction in imported wheat.
"The coming period will likely see a shortage of wheat. Reducing the amount of imported wheat will have negative effects on Sudanese people."
Meanwhile the Sudanese Communist Party has warned of a health disaster in Sudan because of the rise of medicine prices and the state's low spending on the health sector in the 2018 budget. The party called upon Sudanese people to object to the government policies "that lead to the further deterioration of the health sector".
A pharmaceutical expert said that the next half year will see the absence of new medicines in Sudan coupled with an emergence of fake medicines on the market. Khalid Wedel Nur also said that there are approximately 400 companies and institutions in the country that sell medicines imported from abroad, instead of pharmaceutical companies which have been unable to import them.
Last month, the health committee of the Sudanese Parliament expects an 'impending disaster in the pharmaceutical sector' and announced that foreign companies have stopped supplying medical supplies and lifesaving and chronic disease medicines because of the accumulation of debts.