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Sudan $3 billion richer thanks to Gulf aid

Sudan has received half of the $3 billion in aid promised by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in April and expects the remainder to be paid by the end of next year, Sudan’s finance minister said late on Monday.

The Gulf countries agreed the aid package soon after former President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in April, throwing a lifeline to Sudan’s new military leaders at the time.

Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had deposited $500 million with the central bank while $1 billion worth of petroleum products, wheat and products used by the agricultural sector had been received.

Sudan’s economy has been struggling since the south seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of the country’s oil output and depriving Khartoum of a key source of foreign currency. Long lines for bread and fuel have become a recurring feature of Sudan’s prolonged economic crisis.

“I met with the ambassadors of the kingdom and of the UAE, and we agreed on a programmed schedule that will, God willing, take us to the end of 2020, to finish off the rest of the grant,” Elbadawi said.

He was speaking on the sidelines of an event in Abu Dhabi, where Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is visiting after traveling to Riyadh earlier in the week.

“The UAE is committed to provide $1.5 billion out of the $3 billion to Sudan,” an Emirati official said on Tuesday in response to a request for comment on Elbadawi’s remarks.

The official said $500 million had been deposited with Sudan’s central bank in April – $250 million each from the UAE and Saudi Arabia – to support the economy.

The remaining $2.5 billion would be used to provide food, medicine, petroleum and agriculture products, as well as to support Sudan’s education sector, he said.

In the last two months, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have dispatched 340,000 tonnes of wheat out of the 540,000 tonnes earmarked for Sudan, the Emirati official said.

There was no immediate response from Saudi Arabia’s government media office.

Sudan’s new prime minister was accompanied on his visit to the Gulf by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the transitional sovereign council, and other senior officials.

Last month, Elbadawi announced a nine-month economic rescue plan aimed at curbing rampant inflation while ensuring supplies of basic goods. The plan would keep bread and petrol subsidies in place until at least June 2020.

Source: Reuters

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