Sudan PM announces ‘strict austerity’ in emergency economic reforms

Sudan’s Prime Minister Moataz Moussa announced to parliament on Wednesday a 15-month emergency economic-reform plan, including “further strict austerity measures,” to begin this month. (AFP)
Updated 25 October 2018
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Sudan PM announces ‘strict austerity’ in emergency economic reforms

  • The plan aims to “reduce the average inflation, stabilize the exchange rate of the pound, achieve a GDP growth of 4 percent
  • Sudan’s economy has been struggling since the south seceded in 2011

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s Prime Minister Moataz Moussa announced to parliament on Wednesday a 15-month emergency economic-reform plan, including “further strict austerity measures,” to begin this month.
Sudan’s economy has been struggling since the south seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of oil output and depriving Khartoum of a crucial source of foreign currency.
The plan aims to “reduce the average inflation, stabilize the exchange rate of the pound, achieve a GDP growth of 4 percent and to fix the liquidity crises,” Moussa said.
The measures include slashing all tax exemptions except for materials needed for production, withdrawing some vehicles provided to officials, no longer paying for meals served in government meetings and banning use of imported furniture in government offices, Moussa said.
Moussa also mentioned plans to establish a commodity exchange for gold and currencies.
The economy has been starved of hard currency since South Sudan seceded in 2011, taking the lion’s share of oil, once a major export. Though gold mining has since boomed, officials acknowledge that most of the precious metal is smuggled out of the country.
At more than 60 percent, Sudan’s inflation rate is among the world’s highest. Its currency now buys fewer than half as many dollars on the black market — which has effectively replaced the formal banking system — as it did a year ago.
In September, 11 months after the United States lifted 20-year-old trade sanctions, Bashir dissolved his government, citing Sudan’s “state of distress and frustration,” and slashed a third of ministries to cut costs.
The end of the embargo has so far failed to provide a hoped- for boost to foreign investment, which economists have linked to Washington’s continued designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism.
“One of our biggest challenges that the 2019 budget is facing, is having Sudan on the list of state sponsors of terrorism,” Moussa said.


UAE property developers’ earnings give Gulf markets a boost

Updated 17 February 2019
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UAE property developers’ earnings give Gulf markets a boost

  • Real estate sector gets confidence boost
  • DAMAC gains despite 87 pct drop in Q4 net profits

DUBAI: Most stock markets in the Middle East closed higher on Sunday, reflecting a rally in global stock markets on Friday, and were also boosted by better-than-expected company results, particularly in real estate.

The Abu Dhabi index gained 0.7 percent and the Dubai index 0.6 percent, as two of the largest property developers in the United Arab Emirates posted positive fourth-quarter financial results last week that beat market expectations.

“The market is starting to rebuild confidence in earnings as a driver for sentiment,” said Arqaam Capital in a research note. “Sentiment on the UAE was very weak in 2018, specifically for real estate, on concerns over oversupply risk, pricing pressure that is leading to extended payment plans, and a rental yield compression that is continuing to fall,” Arqaam said.

“But Q4 numbers provided evidence that a few developers have emerged as winners (Emaar Co’s, Aldar) out of market consolidation.” Emaar Properties, Dubai’s largest listed developer, reported a 27 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit.

The stock rose 2 percent on Sunday. DAMAC Properties closed up 0.8 percent, despite having reported a nearly 60 percent fall in full-year profit and an 87 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profits.

In Abu Dhabi, Aldar Properties gained 3.6 percent. Last week, the developer reported a rise in fourth-quarter earnings and higher dividends for 2018. In other sectors, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank rose 0.5 percent after saying it had no merger and acquisition plans. This was in response to a Bloomberg report last week which said the bank was considering such options.

The Saudi index closed 0.4 percent down, in contrast to the rest of the region’s markets. Arab National Bank reported an increase in full- year net profit to 3.13 billion riyals ($834.62 million) from 3.03 billion riyals one year earlier.

The stock remained unchanged and this failed to give support to the banking sector. Alinma Bank < 1150.SE> and Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp. lost 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

In Egypt, where the main index gained 1.4 percent, Orascom Investment Holding, up 3.2 percent, was among the stocks attracting the highest trading volume. Shares in the company jumped last week after its chairman, Egyptian billionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris, said he saw possible investment opportunities in North Korea if a summit between its leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump later this month was successful.

SAUDI The index lost 0.4 pct to 8,592 points ARABIA DUBAI The index rose 0.6 pct to 2,550 points ABU DHABI The index rose 0.7 pct to 5,070 points QATAR The index gained 0.7 pct to 10,011 points EGYPT The index rose 1.4 pct to 15,199 points KUWAIT The index gainedd 0.1 pct to 5,427 points OMAN The index was down 0.8 pct at 4,077 points BAHRAIN

The index went up 0.6 pct to 1,381 points ($1 = 3.7502 riyals)