By Adel Sandrai
The protestors in the cities and towns of the Republic of Sudan went to the streets demonstrating against the the Government of Sudan and the ruling Party the National Congress Party, popularly known as NCP in particular. The demonstrations clearly had economic undertones and was not political as such. However, politics came to play at later stages. This article seeks to explore the reasons why the demonstrators went on the streets, how it turned political and how the Government of the Republic of Sudan is responding to the crisis.
The demonstrations started because of three major reasons.
1. Government policy to control the cash flow in the country. A policy to digitize the financial system in Sudan was introduced to control the amount of money in the hands of the citizens. The Government realized that large amount of money was circulating through the informal economic system in the hands of few Traders and citizen. Large amounts of money were also being kept out of formal banking systems. This leaves the banks in shortage of cash. This practice meant that the Government is left in perpetual shortage of cash to implement its projects. It resulted in the Government to restrict withdrawal of cash from personal accounts to 1,000 Sudanese pounds per transaction per day. The citizens could not access the money they deposited in the banks. The Government introduced Payments for goods and services by cheque, debit and credit cards in restricted manner. However, this was done in complete absence of public information and awareness mechanisms. Gradually, citizens found themselves cash strapped and unable to meet their financial obligations and the dollar appreciated against the Sudanese pounds.
2. Corrupted bread subsidies policy. The Government subsides wheat flour to ensure lower prices of bread to Sudanese. But the bakery owners were taking advantage of the subsidy scheme. They buy the flour from Government cooperative shops at discounted prices. Much of the flour find its way to Eritrea, North South Sudan, Libya and Chad. This increased the prices of a loaf of bread beyond the reach of the citizens.
3. Fuel Subsidy. Like the flour subsidy, large amounts of subsidized fuel found its Way to the above mentioned countries fetching handsome incomes leaving huge shortage back in Sudan. Due to scarcities of these two products, long queues wiggling around Sudanese cities and towns in Sudan for both bread and fuel was visible – much to the frustrations of Sudanese citizens.
To be continued