Sudan’s FM slams finance ministry for slashing his budget

February 22, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti chided the finance ministry on Tuesday saying that it has restricted his spending and made his job more difficult.

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Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti (AFP)

Addressing the parliament today, Karti said that the money at the disposal of his ministry was reduced but gave no reason for the measure.

He noted that there were two items in his ministry’s budgets that saw cuts from last year by 26% and 40% respectively. Karti expressed concern saying that he is “puzzled” over how his ministry will manage for the remainder of the year given the financial situation.

Some of the lawmakers in attendance called for supporting the foreign ministry describing the diplomacy center as “walking through landmines” and fighting “big battles”.

Karti’s statements highlights the growing economic crisis facing the country particularly as the North stands to officially lose the oil-rich South next July.

Earlier this year, the Sudanese government approved an austerity package that partially removed subsidies on sugar and petroleum products with further cuts expected to follow later this year.

Among the steps taken that would have likely impacted the foreign ministry is a 30% reduction in foreign travel for government officials and 10% in the budget of diplomatic missions abroad.

Sudan produces some 500,000 barrels per day of oil, but only 100,000-110,000 bpd are from wells in the north. The economy is dependent on oil for some 45 percent of its budget and most of its foreign currency revenues.

Khartoum aims to cut the budget deficit, curb government spending and cut imports to prevent further deterioration in the economic situation. There has been sharp increases in food prices since last year which was attributed by officials to the global trend.

Analysts say that the hikes in price of petroleum products will also reflect on other parts of the economy such as transportation and agriculture.

Separately, Karti appeared to take a direct hit at the governor of South Darfur Abdel-Hamid Kasha in the row that has erupted last week after he expelled a French aid group.

Last week, the foreign ministry spokesperson slammed the decision saying it was done without consulting them stressing that they are the “first line of defense” for Sudan’s national security.

Kasha responded on Friday saying that he awaits no permission from the foreign ministry to act when the country’s security is endangered. He stressed that the decision would not be reversed and that they will not ask for indulgences from other countries and even threatened legal action against the foreign ministry.

The governor justified his move against Médecins du Monde (MDM) by saying that they are supporting rebels from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by Abdel Wahid Al-Nur.

But the Sudanese top diplomat said that some domestic circles in the government are “embarrassing” his ministry in front of the world.

Following an arrest warrant in March 2009 by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the Sudanese President for crimes against humanity and war crimes, Sudan expelled 13 humanitarian groups working in Darfur amidst international condemnation.

The exchange of criticisms publicly between Kasha and the foreign ministry indicates the latter’s nervousness over the potential for slowing down the pace of normalization of relations between Sudan and the rest of the world after the conduct of South Sudan referendum which was praised by eh rest of the world.

Obama’s administration already began the process of delisting Sudan from the countries that sponsor terrorism.


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