Sudanese direct allowances to alleviate impact of inflation

“The Thamarat program is here to help people through this hard time,” Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said.

Thursday 25/02/2021
A file picture shows Sudanese drinking tea in Khartoum. (AFP)
A file picture shows Sudanese drinking tea in Khartoum. (AFP)

KHARTOUM - Sudan launched a scheme on Wednesday to alleviate the impact of a severe economic crisis by paying out monthly cash allowances of $5 that are eventually meant to reach 80% of the population.

The first $400 million phase of the programme is financed by the World Bank and other donors, but disbursement of funds had been delayed ahead of a steep currency devaluation announced early on Sunday.

The family support project, named “Thamarat” (Fruits), is initially being rolled out in four of Sudan’s 18 states.

Sudan has been roiled by an economic crisis that triggered protests against former ruler Omar al-Bashir and continued after his overthrow in April 2019.

An uneasy, transitional military-civilian alliance now governs the country of 45 million. Inflation has risen to more than 300%, and there have been frequent shortages of bread, fuel, power and medicine.

“The Thamarat program is here to help people through this hard time,” Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said as he launched the programme in Al-Kalakla, a neighbourhood on the southern outskirts of the capital, Khartoum.

Hamdok acknowledged that the scheme had been slow to start but appealed to people to be patient. Logistical challenges registering families have contributed to delays, officials say.

“We aspire to have it cover all of Sudan’s states soon,” Hamdok said.

The government had taken measures try to limit price increases after devaluation, but that the allowances were designed to cushion the impact of any further inflation, said Finance Minister Jibril Ibrahim.

“We will try to make sure they (prices rises) don’t happen, but if they do people will have extra income to face these increases,” he said.

“We want this to be a productive program. We want people to pool their money and start small productive projects.”