Sudan: Minister - Economic Crisis Caused By Monopolies, Lack of Govt. Control

Khartoum — The Minister of Industry and Trade has strongly criticised the lack of government control over the various markets in the country.

Speaking at a forum in Khartoum on Tuesday, Minister Mousa Karama denounced the "current chaos of commodity prices" and "the lack of government control over the trade markets".

He attributed the chronic economic crisis in the country to "an imbalance of policies at the sovereign and decision-making levels". The developers of the liberalisation policy in Sudan have been "ignorant", he said.

Dr Karama further revealed that the sugar trade and bank financing in Sudan are controlled "by six people, including politicians". Eleven people are monopolising the cement trade and the leather industry.

The State Minister of Labour reported that unemployment among university graduates has risen to 39.7 per cent.

He attributed the rise to "the decrease in the ability of the public sector to employ the labour force". He also pointed to "new entrants to the labour market at the expense of national employment opportunities".

Crises

Sudan is suffering from chronic hard currency shortages and a soaring inflation since 2012. Prices skyrocketed in particular after the government implemented a set of austerity measures in January this year. The crises have led to recurrent shortages in commodities like bread and fuel.

In May, President Omar Al Bashir reshuffled his cabinet and launched a "war on corruption" in a bid to revive the country's economy and curb the soaring food prices. In September, Al Bashir announced a second cabinet reshuffle and new measures to cut government spending. The 31 ministries would be reduced to 21. The number of ministries in the 18 states in the country would be downsized as well.

According to former banker and civil society activist Ismail Mohamed, the economic problems in Sudan are the result of an unclear political vision to tackle them. The imbalances facing the Sudanese economy are structural, because of the poor economic infrastructure and the inability to absorb any shocks, the financial analyst said in July.

He pointed to the large budget deficit, the trade payment deficits that led to a sharp devaluation of the national currency, the huge external debts, high inflation and low salaries, high unemployment rates, especially among universities graduates, a shrinking economy which caused a sharp decline in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and a sharp rise of the poverty levels.

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