Sudan gives final approval to 2021 budget – finance ministry

A joint meeting of Sudan’s ruling council and cabinet has given final approval to the country’s 2021 budget, a finance ministry statement said.

The budget is the first to be passed since the removal of Sudan from the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list and a peace deal involving some rebel groups last year.

Sudan is going through a deepening economic crisis, with inflation in December at 269% and periodic shortages of fuel, bread, and electricity.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Monday the IMF was working “very intensively” with Sudan to build the preconditions for broad debt relief, a process made possible by the lifting of U.S. restrictions on aid.

While the official rate for the Sudanese pound that is used to calculate the budget was 55 against the dollar, on the black market it weakened to 290 on Tuesday, down more than 10% since the start of the year.

Earlier this month, the ministry had said the budget allows for a deficit of 1.4%.

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Spending on the government would be reduced by 24%, Tuesday’s statement said, while the tax base would be increased by 60%.

The ministry also said that 54.1 billion Sudanese pounds – $983.63 million at the official rate – were set aside for expenditures and projects related to peace-building, including 13.3 billion Sudanese pounds for an annual fund agreed with the rebel groups last year.

Healthcare is due to receive 9% of the budget, the ministry had said earlier, while education is set to receive 12.5%, and defence 12.4%.

“The finance ministry will take full advantage of all the opportunities that have become available after the removal of Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terror, including renewed access to the global financial system expectations of foreign investment,” finance minister Hiba Mohamed Ali said in the statement.

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