Sudan offers no fuel concessions to angry protesters
Published Monday, June 25, 2012
There will be no turning back on Sudan's policy of phasing out fuel subsidies, the finance minister said on Monday, despite public outrage over high prices in the bankrupt nation.
Anti-regime demonstrations have widened since President Omar al-Bashir on June 18 announced austerity measures including tax hikes and an end to cheap fuel.
"We will not retreat from our policy to remove the subsidy, whatever happens," Finance Minister Ali Mahmud al-Rasul told a news conference.
"If the price of oil goes higher in the international market, we will increase it in Sudan."
The cost of petrol at the pump has roughly doubled since last week under the new policy, adding to an inflation rate which has risen every month and hit 30.4 percent in May.
Sudan has lost billions of dollars in oil receipts since South Sudan gained independence last July, taking with it about 75 percent of Sudanese crude production.
The north has been left struggling for revenue, plagued by inflation, and with a severe shortage of dollars to pay for imports.
The landlocked South depended on the north's pipeline and port to export its crude but the two countries could not agree on how much South Sudan should pay to use the infrastructure.
Rasul said in May that the lost pipeline fees amounted to 6.5 billion Sudanese pounds ($1.48 billion).
Sudan's already depleted oil revenues shrank by a further 20 percent after its main Heglig oil field was damaged and shut down in fighting with invading South Sudanese troops in April, an international economist has estimated.
Even before the easing of fuel subsidies, the cost of basic consumer goods had doubled over the past year.
Demonstrations against high prices and Bashir's 23-year regime continued for a 10th day on Monday, witnesses said.