June 16, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s ruling party endorsed a number of drastic economic measures the government intends to enforce including the partial removal of oil subsidies which is seen as highly unpopular.
- Nafie Ali Nafie (SUNA)
The government was facing strong resistance from the parliament and some leading members in the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) who, since last January have been very hostile to scraping oil subsidies, saying it will bring protest and unrest throughout the country.
The deficit in the national budget reached some $2.4 billon and the government failed to find other resources to bridge this gap despite the support provided by some Arab countries.
"Removing fuel subsidies and increasing (fuel) prices are measures taken by a bankrupt state," said finance minister Ali Mahmoud this week, to illustrate the difficult situation of the country as the subsidies benefit mainly the lower class who have already been hit by the severe economic crisis.
The National Shura (consultation) Council of the ruling National Congress Party adopted, on Saturday, a series of measures proposed to overcome the current crisis after the loss of financial revenue of oil produced by the South Sudan.
These drastic measures include structural reform of the government in national and regional institutions, increase of national income, decrease of internal spending and reduction in the need for hard currency.
The move allows the government to propose concrete decisions to be discussed at the government cabinet, as some will require the vote of the national parliament.
The lifting of oil subsidies will be partial in a way that will not affect much of the lower class who already suffer from the inflation caused by the devaluation of the national currency.
Commenting on the decisions of the meeting, presidential assistant and NCP deputy chairman Nafie Ali Nafie stressed that the partial lifting of subsidies, which will be between 10% to 40%, means that the state will continue to subsidise commodities.
He also said his party has launched consultations with the allied political parties of the national government to reduce their participation at the national and regional levels.
Speaking about the probable political upheaval across the country as result of the removal of oil subsidies, Nafie said the opposition has been working to bring down the government and they think that these economic measures represent a golden opportunity for them.
"But their expectation will be disappointed," he said stressing his confidence that the austerity measures will strengthen the government.
However, in Khartoum, Sudanese police broke up a protest on Saturday evening against the cut of subsidies by hundreds of female students of Khartoum university. The anti riot force used tear gas and shots in the air to disperse protesters.
The opposition Umma National Party (NUP) also released a statement on Saturday opposed to scrapping oil subsidies and called on Sudanese to protest peacefully against these measures and to organise marches and sit-ins.
Yasir Arman secretary general of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) voiced his support earlier this week to a call by the opposition National Consensus Forces (NCF) to protest against the drastic economic plan saying it is directed against the poor majority of Sudanese people.
Arman called on the supporters of the SPLM-N and Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) to protest in order to overthrow the regime. He further urged the opposition forces to coordinate with them to topple the NCP’s regime and to establish a new and democratic Sudan.