In assisting millions of people deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Sudanese government has begun distributing cash handouts under an internationally backed plan. According to authorities, the relief fund is funded from $1.8 billion pledged by 40 countries at a conference last month in Germany.
The conference was aimed at assisting the African nation as it transitions from three decades of rule under now-ousted autocrat, Omar al-Bashir coupled with the economic impact of the pandemic. This is part of an economic reform agreement the government reached with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last month.
Essam Abbas, director of the finance ministry’s digital transformation agency, told AFP that “the programme is based on supporting 80 percent of the country’s population with direct cash support from the state.”
Sudan’s economic crisis began long before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Early this year, bread prices increased, and till date, many are forced to queue for hours to buy staple foods or fill their car with petrol. Power cuts still last six hours a day, and gas bottles for domestic use are hard to come by.
The Sudanese economy contracted by 2.3 percent in 2018 and by 2.5 percent in 2019. It is also projected to contract by 1.2 percent this year, it said in a report. More so, Sudan’s annual inflation rate topped the 114 percent mark in May, adding to the country’s economic crisis.
However, Sudan’s economic woes are far from over, particularly as business operations suffer the impact of restrictions put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus. So far, the country has officially registered more than 10,000 cases of the virus and around 650 deaths.
Nevertheless, Sudan’s government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have reached an agreement on a joint program that will pave way for international funding and investment. The program will focus on productive sectors, infrastructure, job opportunities and strengthening efforts to fight corruption and promote good governance.