Sudanese pound strengthens on black market after Bashir's ouster -traders

(Adds businessman on Gulf aid)

By Khalid Abdelaziz

KHARTOUM, April 18 (Reuters) - The Sudanese pound strengthened sharply on the black market on Thursday, two traders and a businessman said, as imports dwindled amid the political chaos that led to the overthrow last week of president Omar al-Bashir.

The pound firmed to 53 pounds to the dollar on the black market from 74 pounds just before the military ousted and detained Bashir, who ruled with an iron hand for 30 years before unrest erupted over deteriorating conditions in the country.

The military announced Bashir's removal on April 11 after months of protests sparked by food and cash shortages, and set up a transitional military council to run the country for up to two years until free elections.

"The advent of the new government caused some confusion in the commercial field," the businessman said. "We are waiting to know the government's new economic policies so that we can engage in operations and import again."

One businessman said the pound may have strengthened due to expectations of aid from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Both countries have pledged support for Sudan since the military took over. Saudi Arabia said it would provide wheat, fuel and medicine, among the country's main imports and drains on scarce foreign currency.

The rise of the pound also comes following moves by the ruling Transitional Military Council to curb systemic corruption and financial mismanagement, according to state media.

In initial steps on Thursday, the TMC ordered the central bank to review financial transfers since April 1 and to seize "suspect" funds, the state news agency SUNA said.

It also ordered a suspension in transfers of share ownership until further notice and any large or suspect transfers of shares or companies to be reported to state authorities.

In a further move, the TMC decreed that all state entities disclose financial holdings within 72 hours and warned that officials who failed to comply could be fined and face up to 10 years in prison, SUNA said.

The official exchange rate has been set at 47.5 Sudanese pounds to the dollar since October. The black market rate was 65 pounds on Tuesday, three traders in central Khartoum said.

Sudan has been expanding its money supply to finance a budget deficit, causing inflation to soar and the currency to plunge against other currencies. The protesters blame years of mismanagement under Bashir and U.S. sanctions for the crisis.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz Writing by Yousef Saba Editing by Patrick Werr/Mark Heinrich/Susan Fenton)

First Published: 2019-04-18 18:59:22
Updated 2019-04-18 19:38:30

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