sudan presents budget \overcomes\ oil loss
Last Updated : GMT 23:05:12
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Sudan presents budget \'overcomes\' oil loss

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Sudan presents budget \'overcomes\' oil loss

Khartoum - AFP

Sudan has overcome the loss of South Sudanese oil, the finance minister said in presenting a new budget to parliament on Wednesday, despite 45 percent inflation and a currency at record black-market lows. Finance Minister Ali Mahmud al-Rasul said GDP growth will reach 1.4 percent this year and rise to 3.6 percent in 2013. \"The 2013 budget shows that we have overcome the secession of South Sudan,\" Rasul said. But Rasul\'s growth figures contradict International Monetary Fund estimates for an 11 percent contraction in 2012 and holding roughly steady next year. South Sudan separated in July 2011 with roughly 75 percent of the 470,000 barrels per day of oil produced by the formerly unified country. The lost crude accounted for most of Khartoum\'s export earnings and half of its fiscal revenues. Without this source of hard currency, which is needed to pay for imports, inflation has soared and the Sudanese pound has plunged. The government is trying to boost exports of gold and other non-petroleum products. El Shafie Mohammed El Makki, head of political science at the University of Khartoum, said the budget will not address a deteriorating economy in which people are struggling to survive. \"It is (a) very serious situation,\" he told AFP. A September agreement between Sudan and South Sudan included a financial package worth about $3 billion (2.3 billion euros) in southern compensation for the oilfields Sudan lost at separation. The two sides also agreed on fees for exporting the South\'s oil through northern pipelines for export. South Sudan halted oil production in January after accusing Khartoum of theft in a long-running fee dispute. Those and other deals have not yet been implemented, and Rasul told parliament that his 2013 budget does not include any oil transit fees from South Sudan. Neither will there be a further reduction in subsidies for the domestic oil market, he told legislators, who must still debate the budget. As part of measures announced in June to address the fiscal imbalance, Sudan raised the pump prices of fuel by about 50 percent under a phasing out of petroleum subsidies worth 2.2 billion pounds ($500 million) this year. Anti-inflation protests followed, with Arab Spring-inspired calls for the downfall of President Omar al-Bashir\'s 23-year-old regime. The scattered protests petered out following a security clampdown. Reducing the subsidies was part of a reform package that the IMF called an important step to restoring economic stability and reducing dependence on oil. The government also raised taxes, devalued the currency and increased social spending. An IMF staff report in September said restoring economic stability would require \"strong and determined implementation\" of those measures. It urged the 2013 budget to maintain \"the subsidy reform momentum\". Rasul said the budget contains no more tax increases but the government is trying to \"extend the umbrella of taxation\", which is in line with economists\' calls to broaden the tax base. The minister forecast inflation of around 22 percent next year. In June Sudan devalued its currency to 4.40 pounds per dollar, while sanctioning a trading band that let the price range closer to the unofficial rate. But the black market price has continued to fall, and on Wednesday traded at a record low 6.50 pounds to the dollar. Despite that, Rasul said the government will try to hold the official rates at present levels. He said economic growth has been particularly boosted by gold exports totalling 42 tonnes, with a value of about $2.3 billion. Political scientist Makki says the government still lacks resources and the country remains in crisis. \"They are going to put the burden on the masses,\" he said.

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