June 19, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - President Omar Al-Bashir briefed Sudanese lawmakers on Monday about a series of structural reforms his government will undertake as part of austerity measures aiming to reduce public spending to overcome a severe economic crisis hitting the country.
- President Omer Al-Bashir (Reuters)
The move comes amid student protests and calls by opposition parties and rebels as well to mobilise on the streets against the regime. Aware of this situation, Bashir focused yesterday on government plans to overhaul the large federal government and regional institutions.
Bashir told the legislators in his long speech that that at the national level, the government will reduce the number of advisers and other officials at the presidency and the parliament. He also said the size of the government will shrink.
Many ministries will be merged and deputy ministers will be relieved of their posts. The move also includes experts and officials in the cabinet ministry.
Regarding the regional governments and local administration, the rate of reduction will be "between 45 and 50 percent on the executive and legislative institutions respectively".
Bashir also said that the cut of fuel subsidies will be gradual, but without elaborating.
The cabinet is expected to hold a meeting on Tuesday to endorse these measures and to announce further details.
The ministers and officials of the government economic sector held a meeting yesterday where they prepared a series of decisions to be announced on Tuesday after an expected meeting of the cabinet chaired by President Bashir.
Some measures will be implemented directly but others require the vote of the parliament and will be submitted to the lawmakers before.
He further said the austerity reforms include the privileges of ministers and government officials, public spending, construction of new government buildings, and the privatisation of public companies.
The president pledged that his government will ease the impact of the austerity plan on poor families through a number of measures, such as the increase from 500,000 to 750,000 households benefiting from direct state support, and to allocate specific grants to poor workers and retired employees.
He also said essential commodities like wheat, and medicines will be exempted from importation taxes and duties.
Bashir also admitted that the fight against the rebel groups in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur has increased the spending of his government. But he vowed to defeat the "agents and mercenaries" who wage their proxy war with the support of South Sudan.