Sudan’s central bank governor Sabir Mohammad al-Hassan
speaks during a news conference attended by
the heads of Sudan’s commercial banks in Khartoum
September 30, 2010 (Reuters)
The Central Bank of Sudan announced today that its governor Sabir Mohamed Al-Hassan will step down effective immediately ending weeks of speculations on his future with the highest financial authority in the country.
In a statement released today by the central bank it was revealed that Al-Hassan asked the presidency last December not to renew his term which expires on Monday. His successor has yet to be named.
The former governor was quoted as saying that reasons behind his decision were his age, length of time he spent at his current position saying it affected his health as well his family and social relations.
He denied reports that differences with the economic team in the government prompted his move.
A month ago, local media reported that Al-Hassan asked president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir to relieve him from the post he held since March 1998.
These news were dismissed by Sudanese officials who suggested that the governor’s tenure will be extended further.
But Ibrahim ElBadawi, former lead Economist at the Development Research Group of the World Bank, said in an interview last month that he was approached by Khartoum to take over the leadership of the central bank.
ElBadawi said that he turned down the offer suggesting that he will not be free from political interference should he end up becoming the governor.
Al-Hassan’s resignation comes a few months away from South Sudan’s official independence which followed the referendum results that took place last January and showed an overwhelming majority in favor of secession.
Because most of Sudan’s oil lies in the South, it is widely feared that the North will suffer an economic shock amidst soaring inflation levels and chronic shortages in hard currency leaving many international companies struggling to repatriate profits and hurting foreign investment.
Ordinary Sudanese citizens have grown increasingly frustrated with the cost of living and rising food prices which in some cases more than doubled.
Khartoum has partially removed subsidies on sugar and petroleum products which was coupled with a de-facto devaluation of the Sudanese pound.
The government is also in the process of privatizing state-owned firms to remove the burden of supporting companies which continued to be in the red zone profit wise. It also banned many imports to reduce the hard currency outflow and prevent further depletion of the already low foreign currency reserves.
Officials in Khartoum blame economic instability since last year largely on speculative trading and hoarding in the run-up to the referendum. Private analysts say the referendum is only a minor factor, and that Sudan’s economy has hit crisis point because of years of mismanagement and overspending.