BEIRUT

Middle East

Cash-starved Sudan to double minimum wage

A Sudanese man displays on October 11, 2012 damages on the aftermath of shelling by rebels of Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in the capital of the Sudanese South Kordofan state, Kadugli. (AFP PHOTO/STR)

KHARTOUM: Sudan's cash-starved government on Sunday ordered a doubling of the minimum wage after months of rising prices left consumers struggling to make ends meet.

The order by President Omar al-Bashir reversed earlier official rejections of an increase despite inflation which reached 46 percent in November.

"President Bashir gives directive for increasing the minimum wage to 425 pounds (about $61 on the black market) as of January 1," the official SUNA news agency said in a brief dispatch.

The new figure is roughly double the old minimum.

Almost 47 percent of Sudanese lived below the poverty line in 2010, the United Nations said, but the country has descended into economic crisis since July last year when South Sudan broke away with roughly 75 percent of the formerly united country's oil production.

Inflation has risen and the value of the Sudanese pound has dropped to record lows as the lost crude accounted for most of Khartoum's export earnings and half of its fiscal revenues.

In June and July anti-inflation protests erupted around the country, with Arab Spring-inspired calls for the overthrow of Bashir's 23-year rule. The scattered demonstrations petered out in the face of a clampdown.

 

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