A fundamental development issue in Africa, whether sub-Saharan or Maghrebian, is that national budgets are not prepared with the development or wellbeing of the people in mind. The ultimate beneficiaries of the budget are the elites who misappropriate it for personal gains and their families abroad. All over Africa, the story is virtually the same.
A leaked 2021 National Budget in Sudan shows that government plans to increase the budget for the military and security forces and decrease those of health care and education.
The expenditure on the security and defence sector will reach SDG 201.5 billion, equivalent to one-third of all public revenues. The education budget will be reduced from SDG 14.8 billion to SDG 6.2 billion.
The budget of the Sovereign Council will reportedly increase by 126 per cent, that of the Council of Ministers by 782 per cent. The Peacebuilding Fund will receive SDG 13.3 billion.
The leaked proposed 2021 budget show that public revenues are expected to amount to SDG 899.7 billion, an increase of 58 per cent compared to 2020 (not taken inflation into account). Tax revenues are expected to increase with 77 per cent, from SDG 412.2 billion in 2020 to SDG 731.4 billion.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning will present the 2021 National Budget to the Council of Ministers on Tuesday. The Finance Ministry said in a statement that it will also present the planned budget to the Forces for Freedom and Change, the Resistance Committees Coordination, and the Peace Partners (members of the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance that signed the Juba Peace Agreement with the government on October 3 last year), before it will submit the 2021 budget at a joint meeting of the Sovereign Council and the Council of Ministers on January 10 “for final approval”.
The Finance Ministry said the 2021 National Budget is “the result of wide consultations and meetings between economists and politicians from various backgrounds with finance officials, ministries, institutions, budget experts, and representatives of the Resistance Committees, the FFC, and the Peace Partners”.
Dr Hasan Bashir, Professor of Economics at El Nilein University in Khartoum, told Radio Dabanga last week that he expects that many Sudanese will continue to live in dire conditions in 2021.
Based on the leaked contents of the 2021 National Budget, he said that “the budget shows an imbalance in the expenditure”, referring to an increase in expenses for the ministries of Defence and Interior Affairs, as well as for the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. On the other hand, the budgets for health care and education have been reduced.
Economist Bashir expects the tax revenues to be lower than planned because of the inflation. He considers it “a major problem” that revenues from companies owned by military forces are not mentioned in the 2021 National Budget.
In August 2019 Sovereign Council chairman, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan defended the role companies owned by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) played in the Sudanese economy. Critics attributed the economic crisis to SAF companies and investments.