April 12, 2018 / 6:01 PM / 5 months ago

Sudan inflation rises to 55.6 pct in March

KHARTOUM, April 12 (Reuters) - Inflation in Sudan rose to 55.6 percent in March year-on-year from 54.34 percent in February, the state statistics agency said on Thursday, amid rising food prices that have kindled unrest and a hard currency shortage that has crimped imports.

Prices have risen since the pound plummeted to record lows on the black market in recent months, prompting the central bank to make two steep devaluations since the start of the year, weakening the official rate to about 31.5 pounds to the dollar from 6.7 pounds in late December.

The Sudanese pound hit a record low of about 40 pounds to the dollar last month on the black market, but the devaluations and a ban on deposits of dollars obtained from the black market have reversed this trend.

Sudan’s central bank has also introduced restrictions on withdrawals, leaving many unable to extract their cash from banks.

The government is targeting a sharp fall in inflation, to reach 19.5 percent by the end of 2018 from 34.1 percent at the of end of 2017, but had often denied that it plans to float its currency.

The Sudanese pound traded at about 34 pounds to the dollar on the black market this week, traders said.

Sudan has been largely cut off from international financing in the past decades due to U.S. sanctions which were lifted in October.

Since then, officials have been trying to lure investors to its economy, which has been struggling since the south seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of the country’s oil output, the main source of foreign currency and government income. (Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Nadine Awadalla)

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