Sudan's struggle with austerity

Published September 26th, 2012 - 10:40 GMT
Sudan is struggling to implement austerity plans as the economy shrinks
Sudan is struggling to implement austerity plans as the economy shrinks

The Sudanese minister of finance and national economy, Ali Mahmoud, complained on Sunday that the government is facing a number of obstacles in slashing its spending as planned under austerity measures aiming to salvage the country's contracting economy.

Sudan previously announced it has decided to cut government spending as part of what officials describe as a tripartite economic program involving tough austerity measures designed to contain the fallout from the country's loss of three quarters of its oil production due to the secession of South Sudan in July last year.

The government said it would downsize its bureaucracy through a reduction in the number of constitutional post holders in both federal and regional governments from 572 to 318. It also announced elimination of five ministries, mergers between others, sacking of six presidential advisers and unspecified reductions in official perks.

Addressing a parliamentary session devoted to discussing the tripartite economic program that the government devised to respond to the situation, Ali Mahmoud said that regional governments were not responding to demands by the federal government for cutting their spending.

He added that regional governments are demanding that funds allocated for development be diverted to finance salaries of officials. Mamoud went on to suggest that cutting the spending of regional government “requires intervention” from the federal government but he fell short of describing the nature of such intervention.

The minister also appeared disturbed by what he described as the breakdown in the tripartite program, warning that it would not produce the desired results if its implementation is not monitored by the competent authorities. Many regional governments in Sudan were reported to have dissolved themselves in order to re-organize their structures in compliance with the federal government's directives for decreased spending.

But it was also reported in June this year that the government of South Darfur State in western Sudan rejected orders to restructure without giving any reasons. The minister's public complaints offer a glimpse into the difficulties that the country's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is facing in weaning off its patrons who control regional governments from generous and continued funds from the federal government.

Attempts to cut funding of regional governments already sparked dramatic events when the governor of Al-Qadarif State in eastern Sudan, Karam Allah Abbas, was forced to resign in June following a public dispute with the finance minister over the failure of the federal government to buy cars to service Al-Qadarif government. 


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