Sudan needs $8 billion aid to rebuild ravaged economy, new PM says

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Sudan needs $8 billion in foreign aid over the next two years to cover its import bill and help rebuild its ravaged economy after months of political turmoil, its new prime minister said on Saturday.

Abdalla Hamdok, sworn in three days earlier in to head a transitional ruling body after the ousting of veteran leader Omar al-Bashir, said up to another $2 billion of foreign reserves deposits were needed in the next three months to halt a fall in the currency.

The economist who has worked for the UN Economic Commission for Africa said he had started talks with the IMF and the World Bank to discuss restructuring Sudan’s crippling debt and had approached friendly nations and funding bodies about the aid.

“We are in communication to achieve this,” he said in his first interview with a foreign media outlet. “The foreign reserves in the central bank are weak and very low.”

He also said he had been talking with the United States to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism – a designation which has left Khartoum isolated from the bulk of the international financial system since 1993.

There was no immediate comment from Washington, the IMF or the World Bank.

Sudan has been in economic turmoil since it lost the bulk of its oil production in 2011 when South Sudan seceded after decades of civil war.

It has devalued the pound several times but not been able to halt the fall. One dollar currently fetches 65 pounds on the black market versus the official rate of 45.

“We will work to unify the exchange rate, and to manage the exchange rate using a flexible managed exchange rate,” Hamdok said, without going into details.

“We have already started discussions with funding bodies, including elements from the World Bank, IMF, and the African Development Bank,” in order to come to an understanding about Sudan’s debts, he added.

Mounting public anger over shortages of food, fuel, and hard currency triggered mass demonstrations that eventually forced Bashir from power in April.

The generals that ousted Bashir took over and then, after months of wrangling and further violent protests, agreed to set up a transitional body including civilians to pave the way to elections in three years.

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