Sudan approves 2012 budget, eyes subsidy cuts

KHARTOUM - Sudan is working on a plan to eliminate commodity subsidies that cost the government over $2 billion a year, an official said on Monday after parliament approved the country's budget for 2012.
The African nation has been grappling with a severe economic crisis since South Sudan took with it about three quarters of Sudan's oil output when it seceded in July under a peace deal.
That reduced inflows of foreign currency into Sudan, already stung by US trade sanctions, weakening the Sudanese pound on the black market and driving up the cost of food and other imports.
Sudan's parliament last week rejected a central bank plan to gradually remove fuel subsidies, a sensitive issue in the country where small anti-government protests have been held over prices in recent months.
Parliament's speaker Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir said a new plan to remove subsidies on commodities would be prepared following Monday's budget approval.
"From now we are working to prepare a full projection for how to remove subsidies on commodities, which exceed $2 billion ," he told reporters, without giving details or a timeframe for their removal. "If we succeed in that we'll give the economy a dose of strength."
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