Khartoum / El Obeid / Port Sudan — The Central Bank of Sudan has raised the indicative exchange rate of the US Dollar from SDG 18 to SDG 30 today. On Saturday, the price of flour increased with 25 per cent. The Minister of State for Financial Affairs told MPs on Sunday that the Ministry does not control the exchange rates and prices in the country. According to the National Umma Party (NUP), the government is incapable to implement any reforms.
In early January this year, the Sudanese government raised the customs rate of the US Dollar from SDG 6.7 to SDG 18, in a bid to halt the plummeting of the Pound at the black market. To no avail though, as the Dollar rate increased from SDG 28 to SDG 34.50 in the following two weeks.
On January 21, the Central Bank set the indicative exchange rate of the Dollar on SDG 18. Two weeks later, the greenback hit SDG 42 on the black forex market in Khartoum.
On Sunday, the Minister of State for Financial Affairs, Abdelrahman Dirar, admitted to members of Sudan's Parliament that the Ministry of Finance does not control the exchange rate of the Sudanese currency and the prices in the country.
This high price volatility in general does not occur in countries with a trade deficit such as Sudan, he said.
Dirar said that not everything published in the media is true, attributed the price hikes to "rumours, psychological diseases, and speculations, not economic reasons."
He acknowledged that billions of Pounds were printed in the past years. The extra banknotes were spent to support the wheat, fuel, and electricity needs of the Sudanese.
In another surprise move, the authorities decided to increase the prices of wheat flour again. The price of a 100 kg sack of wheat rose from SDG 440 ($ 24*) to SDG 550 ($ 30) on Saturday.
A housewife told Radio Dabanga from El Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan, that most bakeries closed their doors in response.
"For two months now, we are suffering from a scarcity of bread, but it has become more acute in the past two days," she said. "But even when there would be enough bread, we cannot afford to buy much any more. We returned to eating porridge and flatbread made from sorghum and millet."
Yet, with the increase of the wheat prices, the price of millet rose as well. A trader at one of the El Obeid markets reported that the price of a malwa [about 3 kg] of millet jumped from SDG 20 to SDG 50 and the price of a malwa of corn from SDG 18 to SDG 40.
He added that half a litre of cooking oil is now sold for SDG 20 instead of SDG 10.
Drivers of mini-vans used as taxis in Port Sudan embarked on a strike on Saturday to demand an increase in the transportation tariffs.
"They say they need a tariff increase from SDG 3 to SDG 6 to cover their own expenses at home," journalist Osman Hashim told this station.
According to the NUP, one of the largest opposition parties in Sudan, "the Khartoum regime is powerless and incapable of any reforms".
The party's Political Bureau said in a statement on Sunday that the country is reaching a critical stage, which can only be solved by an "urgent and comprehensive change".
The statement called on NUP cadres and members to continue their "peaceful popular resistance movement" by mobilising people and organising public protests against "the starvation policies of this tyrannical and corrupt government".
Based on the official US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS)