The people of Sudan have taken to the streets to protest the government’s decision to completely liberalize fuel prices at a time when the country faces record inflation.
Troubles erupted on June 9 following a protest call from the Association of Sudanese Professionals (SPA), an umbrella association formed in 2016 as an alliance of professional groups of doctors, engineers and teachers, as well as the Association of University Teachers.
The SPA had also played a leading role in the mass protests which began on December 19, 2018 against a government decision to triple the price of bread, and which led to the ousting of former President Omar el- Bashir on April 11, 2019.
“The SPA calls on all revolutionaries and revolutionary forces to take to the streets now and every day to resist and reverse these unjust decisions,” the organization said in a statement on Facebook on June 9.
“The decision to raise fuel prices for the third time confirms that this authority does not care about citizens and their suffering, and strengthens the confidence of our people that their policies are nothing but a new version. al-Bashir regime, even though it is covered in false propaganda, ”the statement added.
In a separate statement, the SPA said that the decision of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to adopt a fuel pricing mechanism based on the import price would result in an increase in the price of a liter of gasoline by 150 (less than $ 1) to $ 290. Sudanese pounds, an increase of 93%, while a liter of diesel would increase by 128% from 125 to 285 Sudanese pounds. This was done “to satisfy the international financial institutions,” the organization said.
With Sudan annual inflation Climbing to 342% in March, the country implemented reforms overseen by the International Monetary Fund, including a sharp devaluation of the currency in hopes of reviving the economy and attracting debt relief and financing. renewed.
Jibril Ibrahim, Sudanese Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, mentionned citizens would suffer the “painful initial effects of some liberalization policies”, but this was nonetheless the only way to “remove the distortions” in the Sudanese economy and work towards stable economic reform.
The now abandoned subsidy policy was “one of the failed and unfair policies” in which citizens were treated unequally, Ibrahim said.
Ending fuel subsidies would help rationalize fuel consumption and prevent smuggling from Sudan to neighboring countries where fuel is more expensive.
In February of this year, Sudan had the sixthcheapest gasoline prices. The new pricing mechanism dropped the country’s position to 15th cheapest in the world and 5th cheapest in Africa after Angola, Algeria, Nigeria and Ethiopia.
Ibrahim said fuel subsidies cost Sudan $ 1 billion a year, and that economy would now be shifted towards “ordinary people” and important sectors such as education. A relief mechanism to reduce the cost of public transport for students will also be put in place.
Impact on university students
Ebaidalla Ebaidalla, associate professor of economics at the University of Khartoum in Sudan, said News from academia the end of fuel price subsidies would undoubtedly lead to “catastrophic economic and social effects in all sectors, especially higher education”.
In addition to the economic impact of COVID-19, Ebaidalla said, increasing costs of transportation and other basic needs will place a greater burden on families, especially the poor, and could deprive many students of education. ‘access to higher education. It would also increase the university dropout rate, thus negatively affecting the development of higher education necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in Sudan.
This could ultimately lead to more inequalities in education, as students from wealthy families will continue to have better access to universities, Ebaidalla added.
Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world, with over 40% of its citizens living below the poverty line.
It has 128 higher education institutions, including 36 public and 20 private, as well as 53 private colleges and 19 technical university colleges, according to a June 2020 press release. study titled “Higher Education and Scientific Research in Sudan: Current Status and Future Direction”.
Impact on the university community
The higher cost of living will also affect the Sudanese university community, adding to other challenges such as poor fee payment and a transport crisis, Ebaidalla said.
“The government should consider providing grants to support the university community and financial support for poor students, such as a cash transfer to enable them to pay for transportation costs, or forcing the private sector to transport poor students to low cost, ”Ebaidalla mentioned.
The Sudanese academic community is already facing several challenges, including bad payments, transport crises and rising prices of major commodities resulting from the high rate of inflation and the deterioration in the value of the Sudanese pound, according to 2020 study titled “The Effects of Salary Increase (2020) on Improving Working Conditions for University Teachers in Sudan”.