Sudan Currency Continues Descent on Black Market Amid Unrest

KHARTOUM �Sudan's pound currency weakened to 30.5 pounds to the U.S. dollar on Tuesday from about 29.5 pounds a day earlier, traders said, continuing its fall amid protests over bread prices and an acute shortage of hard currency.

Street protests broke out across the northeastern African country after bread prices doubled in recent days, following a government announcement late last month that it was eliminating subsidies in its 2018 budget as part of austerity measures.

This month Sudan devalued its pound currency to 18 per U.S. dollar from 6.7 pounds to the dollar previously. Hard currency remains scarce in the formal banking system however, forcing importers to resort to an increasingly expensive black market.

"The dollar is rising on a daily basis and there is a strong appetite to buy at any price given its scarcity on the market," one black market trader told Reuters.

The government has ruled out a market-determined exchange rate and the black market rate for pounds has been steadily weakening against the dollar since late last month, when the devaluation was announced.

"I expect the dollar price to continue to increase in the coming days because companies and importers are buying dollars in large quantities since the beginning of the year because the banks are not meeting their hard currency needs," another black market trader said.

Source: Voice of America

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