Sudan to seek debt relief from Arab Gulf countries

Sudanese finance minister said Khartoum would also ask Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait to reschedule Sudan’s remaining debt for 16 years.
Monday 19/07/2021
A file picture shows Sudanese Minister of Finance Gibril Ibrahim speaking during a news conference in Khartoum. (AFP)
A file picture shows Sudanese Minister of Finance Gibril Ibrahim speaking during a news conference in Khartoum. (AFP)

CAIRO - 

Sudan will seek relief from wealthy Gulf Arab nations, aiming to get as much as 60% of the African country’s $30 million debt to them written off, the Sudanese finance minister said.

The announcement late Sunday by the minister, Gibril Ibrahim, came after cash-strapped Sudan received a $14.1 billion debt relief from the Paris Club of creditor nations last week.

Ibrahim said Khartoum would also ask Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait to reschedule Sudan’s remaining debt for 16 years. The talks would also focus on a six-year grace period for debt payments, he said.

The Paris Club, a group of 22 nations that lend to governments in need, on Friday urged other lenders to provide similar debt forgiveness to Sudan, which is in a fragile transition to democracy following a 2019 popular uprising that led to the military’s ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

The club also agreed to reschedule Sudan’s remaining $9.4 billion in debt to the group.

“What happened in the Paris Club … is a significant achievement that would lead to more achievements,” said Ibrahim. He added that Sudan’s government would now work to attract investments.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund announced last month that Sudan has met the initial criteria for over $50 billion in foreign debt relief. Sudan’s foreign debt is at $60 billion, according to official figures.

Sudan’s joint military-civilian government has in recent months taken bold steps to try to revive a battered and distorted economy, in which smuggling is rife. Those steps include floating its currency, starting to address heavy government subsidies, particularly on fuel and seeking investment from international donors.

Some of the measures have taken heavy toll on the country’s poorest and have faced opposition from pro-democracy activists who led the popular uprising against Bashir.