Sudan to Spend 60% More in 2021 in Its Bid for Economic Growth

(Bloomberg) -- Sudan will raise spending by about 60% to 1.02 trillion pounds ($18.6 billion) in 2021 as the transitional government strives to return the ravaged economy to growth.

Revenue is seen growing by an even larger proportion to 938.2 billion pounds, according to a copy of the budget shared with Bloomberg. The target for economic expansion is a modest 1%, after the International Monetary Fund estimated an 8.4% contraction in 2020.

Sudan’s cabinet and supreme council, which are ruling after the overthrow of dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019, passed the final budget late Tuesday. The Finance Ministry, which has previously announced only some of the figures, uses an exchange rate of 55 pounds to the U.S. dollar although the black-market rate is several times higher.

The plans come as Sudan, a pariah for most of Bashir’s three-decade reign, builds relations with the U.S., which rescinded the North African country’s listing as a state sponsor of terrorism in December.

Peace Deal

Programs for social support are allocated 259.2 billion pounds, the largest single category at nearly a quarter of total expenditure. About 54 billion pounds are set aside to fund a peace process with rebels from territories including the western region of Darfur and southern border states.

About 137 billion pounds, or 12.4% of spending, is earmarked for education and roughly the same amount for defense, including the army and the Rapid Support Forces, a militia with origins in the Darfur conflict that’s been accused of human-rights abuses.

Riddled by years of corruption, mismanagement and international sanctions under Bashir, the economy has yet to recover in the almost two year since his ouster, blighted by shortages of essential commodities and inflation that hit 269% in December.

Higher revenue will be partly achieved by increasing the total tax gathered by 60% and a planned five-fold increase in gold sales to 100 billion pounds, according to the Finance Ministry. The budget targets reducing the inflation rate to 95% through the year.