Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir on Saturday called for a battle against inflation as part of efforts to reform the country's indebted, cash-starved and sanctions-hit economy. "We must fight high market prices which affect the economy and the people," he said in a speech opening a two-day forum of economic experts, politicians and others seeking solutions for the troubled economy. The government-organised gathering follows a similar forum last year, and critics predicted little would be accomplished. "The economic situation is getting worse," Khalid Tijani, chief editor of the weekly economic newspaper Elaff, told Agence France Presse ahead of the conference. Khartoum lost billions of dollars in export earnings when South Sudan became independent in 2011, taking with it most of Sudan's oil production. Since then the government has struggled with a shortage of hard currency and revenue as the pound has sunk in value on the widely-used black market and inflation has soared. The local currency has lost almost 50 percent of its value on the black market over the past two years. Inflation officially reached 40 percent last month.