World Bulletin / News Desk
Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has decided to support a proposal to lift subsidies on all basic commodities, including fuel.
"The decision came after extensive meetings and consultations with government institutions and parliament, as well as with many opposition parties," prominent NCP member Rabie Abdelati told Anadolu Agency.
At a meeting that ended in the early hours of Friday, the NCP's leadership council, chaired by President Omar al-Bashir, approved a raft of new economic policies, including the removal of subsidies to fill the gap in the balance of payments.
Abdelati said that the party's leadership had also discussed a report on the economic program by Vice President Al-Haj Adam, who is the head of the economic program.
He stressed that the removal of subsidies would not include wheat, adding that subsidies on other commodities would be phased out gradually so as not to affect prices.
"The decision will be formally announced by the Ministry of Finance and National Economy in coming days," Abdelati said.
He added that the move would be implemented in conjunction with a package of economic reforms, including an increase in the national minimum wage and stepped-up support for the poorest segments of the population.
The opposition National Consensus Forces (NCF), for its part, threatened to take to the streets if the decision to remove subsidies was officially approved.
"This [subsidies removal] is a red line. We are prepared to mobilize people against such policies," NCF spokesman Kamal Omer told AA. "We have previously warned against such move."
Omer downplayed the impact of the finance minister's efforts to rally support for the move from the country's political forces.
Abdelati, however, said that the opposition's attempts to mobilize the street against the regime would fail.
"This is an economic issue and cannot be converted into a political one," he said.
Sudan has been reeling from a worsening economic crisis after losing much of its oil revenue due to the secession of South Sudan in 2011.
In May 2012, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund both urged Sudan to adopt emergency measures aimed at stabilizing the economy by lifting subsidies instead of expanding the social safety net.
As a response, the government announced a tripartite program that included the gradual lifting of subsidies, but later backtracked after the austerity measures sparked protests across the country.
Since the government announced the new austerity plan, numerous protests have been seen in capital Khartoum and in other states.Last Mod: 14 Eylül 2013, 10:04