Sudan’s inflation eases but food prices remain ‘very high’

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Sudan’s annual inflation eased marginally to 43.6 percent in January from 44.4 percent in December, official data showed on Thursday but food prices stayed very high, adding to the hardship of ordinary people.

Sudan has avoided “Arab spring” turmoil that has unseated rulers in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, but spiraling food price inflation has sparked small protests against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, in power since 1989.

Prices have soared in the African country since South Sudan seceded in July 2011, taking with it three-quarters of the country’s oil output. Annual inflation was 15 percent in June 2011, the last data before southern independence.

Oil exports had been the main source for public expenditure and foreign currency, which Sudan needs to support the Sudanese pound and pay for food and other imports.

Month-on-month inflation was 2.9 percent in January versus 1.6 percent in December, as the cost of food, the biggest component in the index, rose by 2.1 percent, the central statistical bureau said in its monthly bulletin. The cost of clothing rose by 4.3 percent in January.

Sudan cut back fuel subsidies and took other austerity measures in June to try to plug a budget deficit.

In the Blue Nile state, where the army is fighting insurgents, annual inflation shot up to 58.1 percent in January from 39.8 percent in December, the data showed.

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