As the United States officially lifts its 20-year-old sanctions against Sudan on Thursday, October 12, the Sudanese government maintained that it would continue on its economic reform plans that have been implemented since 2014.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Economic Committee in the Sudanese National Assembly, Dr. Ali Mahmoud, told Al Arabiya English that Sudan has been fully prepared for the economic sanctions lift and is focusing specially on investment.
He said that Sudan would not create new economic programs after the sanctions relief. “We will deal with this stage in the framework of the implementation of the “Five-Year Strategic Plan 2017 2022” and “the economic sustainability emergency program 2014 2019” on rebalancing the Sudanese economy.
The Five-Year economic program is based on continuing the policy of economic liberalization, stopping commodity subsidies, shifting to support national production and vulnerable sectors, and liberalizing the market in a comprehensive manner, he explained.
The program aims to control public spending and direct resources to increase production in the agricultural, livestock and industrial sectors in order to increase production geared to domestic consumption.
The program also aims to reduce the deficit between foreign imports and national exports and increase the export numbers of livestock, Gum Arabic, agricultural products, minerals and gold.
The economic program will further include the non-imposition of new taxes as part of the proposed tax and customs reform, to guarantee the national budget.
“The program encourages the private sector and enable it to play its role in the national economy, as well as to focus on improving the current agricultural systems, in addition to the modernization of tax collection systems,” he said.
Global banking return
Sudanese Minister of State for Investment Dr. Osama Faisal told Al Arabiya English that the Sudanese banking system is poised to gradually integrate into the global banking system after the lift of economic sanctions.
Faisal ruled out any “leaps” in this area, noting that Sudan previously had 100 external corresponding banks, but now only relies on two.
He predicted that the integration of the Sudanese banking system into the global banking system would be gradual.
“The Sudanese government encourages the foreign investments and they are very serious in opening the way for those wishing to invest in the country and help them overcome all obstacles.”
Faisal called on foreign investors to go directly to his ministry to complete investment procedures and not rely on mediators, denying any obstacles to investors. The minister told Al Arabiya English that when it comes to corruption the government has been very diligent.
“The Sudanese government has taken legal measures against ministers and senior officials who have been accused of corruption and have never backed down,” he said.
Despite the assurances of economic officials in the government, politcians warned of the consequences for not abiding by the rules placed by the US on the partial lift.
Presidential aide and Member of the National Unity Government, Ibrahim al-Sanousi, told Al Arabiya English that people are still cautious despite the celebrations from Sudanese citizens for the announcement.
“If our Unity government does not place an economic plan and polices that prevent the fluctuation of the price of the US dollar so the citizen would be able to feel it in his daily life and reduce inflation, the decision will only become a subject for chatter by the political elite,” he said.
He added that there is still a partial disagreement with the US.
“It is as the sword is still out against us before the completion of a full sanctions relief,” he said.
“Three conditions that remain contradict the partial lift as Sudan was commended for their counter-terrorism co-operation but we are still placed on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list and that Sudan remains under the American watch,” he said.
Al-Sanousi said that this calls for efforts to continue in pursuing the permanent lift of the sanctions by trying to improve and develop relations with the United States despite this making the country have to balance between its independent policies and submission to the American will.
On Tuesday, senior opposition member and former Prime Minister of Sudan and head of the National Umma Party, al-Sadiq al-Mahadi, warned the government that the US is ready to use additional tools to pressure Sudan, even after it lifted economic sanctions.
“The statement by the US State Department on the lifting of the sanctions stipulates that the name of the Sudan should remain on the terrorism sponsorship list as long as the International Criminal Court warrant is in place,” he said.
Al-Mahdi added in addition to remaining as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, the US will not appoint an ambassador to Sudan, deny US aid, as well as banning any military exports.”