2 January 2018

Sudanese MPs 'Will Protest 2018 Budget in Parliament'

Khartoum — An alliance of Sudanese Members of Parliament voiced threats to start a sit-in in parliament after a majority of 44 MPs approved the draft budget for 2018 on Sunday. The budget has so far been criticised by Sudanese financial experts and opposition.

In addition a MP of Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP), El Tahir Dafallah, has resigned from the parliament in protest against what he called "the unfair distribution of projects".

The alliance of MPs who disagree with the new annual budget - named 'Change' - includes independent MPs and members of opposition parties. The leader of Change is Abulgasim Burtom. In an interview with Radio Dabanga he said that the withdrawal of MPs from the voting session on the budget "came in order to raise the voice of rights. And, in the meantime, to show our position in the session by saying "no" against the budget so it would not be unanimously approved."

The annual budget for 2018 for Sudan allocates a high percentage of revenue to the army, security service and paramilitary forces similarly to in 2017. Just three per cent of the budget is allocated to education. Similar to previous annual budgets, it relies on direct and indirect taxes and to cover its deficit.

It includes plans to reduce the inflation rate from 34 per cent to 19 per cent. But according to a Sudanese economy expert, the real inflation rate in the country "exceeds 50 per cent".

Boycott

Burtom said that some MPs from the Democratic Forum, Reform Now and the Popular Congress parties stood with them by voting against the new budget. "Our boycott of the voting session onf the budget is just the beginning. We will create other escalations, including a sit-in in parliament."

The MP described the new budget as "flawed". "It cannot be of a respectable state and I expect it to be changed during the first month [... ] The approved budget confirms the failure of the economic staff because it is unrealistic in terms of figures and expectations."

He pointed to the fact that the budget deficit does not include the old deficit of 2017, which is expected to rise to 60 billion Pounds: "These effects will be disastrous for the Sudanese people."

"The 2018 budget's main drawback is its dependence on taxes." - Abulgasim Burtom of the MPs alliance 'Change'

Taxes

Burtom said the main drawback of the budget is its dependence on taxes and the omission of a large portion of revenues. In addition, the budget concentrates the spending on the national security and the military machine while neglecting productive sectors such as agriculture, industry, as well as basic services such as education and health.

"Furthermore the budget spends on the institution of the presidency in a manner that promotes corruption," Burtom said. He added that the raise of the price of the US Dollar to 18 Pounds will increase the price of goods and services and will negatively impacts Sudanese people. The greenback currently costs SDG 28.2 on the parallel currency market.

Electricity tariff

Today, the Minister of Water Resources and Electricity, Motaz Mousa, will appear before Sudanese Parliament to respond to the questions concerning the increase of electricity tariffs, a decision related to the new budget.

On Sunday, the Union of Industrial Chambers said that the government's decision includes the increasing of the electricity tariff for the industrial sector by approximately ten times. At the same time the government decided on a reduction of the Sudanese currency, which will lead to a spike in costs and may keep factories out of business.

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