Sudanese central bank announces 2019 policies to curb deadly protests

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In a government effort to curb popular protests, the Central Bank of Sudan on Tuesday announced a new round of policies for 2019.

According to the central bank, the measures are aimed at achieving financial stability by curbing inflation, stabilizing overall price levels of goods and services, stabilizing the exchange rate and boosting confidence in the banking system.

The country’s financial situation has been exacerbated by a liquidity crunch in banks, which forced the government to limit bank withdrawals last week.

The central bank says the policies are aimed at containing inflation, to fall at an average annual rate of 27.1 percent and achieve a GDP increase of 5.1 percent with a target rate of 36 percent.

In a press conference in Khartoum, central bank governor Mohamed Khair al-Zubair attributed the liquidity crisis to a sharp dip in the Sudanese pound.

“The policies of the Central Bank of Sudan for 2019 intend to achieve monetary and financial stability to realize sustainable growth,” Zubair said.

Zubair said the most important of the new policies included directing banks to finance industry sectors and foreign exchange for the import of priority strategic goods such as oil, wheat, sugar and agricultural machines.

Deadly protests that erupted last month in several Sudanese cities due to bread shortages have evolved to demand the overthrow of President Bashir’s government.

The government promised “imminent solutions” to overcome the crisis but the opposition has expressed doubt.

The 22-party National Front for Change, some of whom are involved in the government, has demanded the formation of a new council to assume sovereignty by forming a transitional government.

In a conference that coincided with the announcement of the new Central Bank policies, the bloc questioned the government’s ability to overcome the crisis because of its continued “policies of corruption.”

The bloc accused the government of neglecting the development of certain industries, particularly agriculture, and the adoption of “wrong policies that led to widespread unemployment and the deterioration of health and education services.”

But the government says the economy has been hit by US sanctions and a drop in oil revenues after the secession of southern Sudan in 2011, after which Sudan lost about three-quarters of its oil wealth.

The country’s economy has also suffered from 20 years of US sanctions, lifted in October 2017. In 1997, the United States imposed an economic embargo on Sudan over terrorism and threats to US national security.