WASHINGTON, June 25, 2020—World Bank Group President David Malpass today delivered the following remarks at the virtual Sudan Partnership Conference:
I would like to first applaud Prime Minister Hamdok, Finance Minister El Badawi and Labor Minister Mahjoub for their vision of how to bring shared prosperity to the Sudanese people. I think that they are the new policies are vital for Sudan.
The World Bank is commit to supporting Sudan’s efforts. This is not a simple proposition because Sudan is in arrears to the Bank, and our rules don’t allow us to finance from our regular funding resources. Even so, we are finding four ways to support Sudan now:
First, we expect to finance an emergency health response to the COVID-19 in July. Combining resources from trust funds that the World Bank administers, we will provide about US$35 million in financing for a project to prevent, detect and respond to COVID-19.
Second, at the government’s request, we have been working with the government to design the Sudan Family Support Program. It’s an ambitious cash transfer program to mitigate the impacts of the economic crisis. The program is costed at $1.9 billion and seeks to cover cash transfers of $5 a month per person to 80 percent of the population, using digital and other delivery mechanisms. Following months of intensive technical work, it is now being piloted and readied for implementation. A key issue is ensuring that the program is predictably financed, and that funds are channeled as much as possible through the Government to build confidence, strengthen transparency and accountability, and ensure sustainability. For this purpose the World Bank has established a Sudan Transition and Recovery Support multi-donor trust fund to channel partner contributions. Use of this mechanism will strengthen government systems with World Bank fiduciary safeguards.
Third, we want to provide, as early as August, up to a maximum of US$400 million in a pre-arrears clearance grant. This would be provided through a special allocation to be approved by our shareholders to support the Sudan Family Support Program. In the spirit of burden sharing, our hope is that the provision of our pre-arrears clearance grant can galvanize significant donor contributions to the Sudan Transition and Recovery Support multi donor trust fund to provide the financing needed to give the Government the highest possible chance to succeed in its reforms.
Fourth, as you alluded, we need to work with the Government to get to arrears clearance to unlock the significant resources that could be available from the Bank – about $1.75 billion for the period up to 2023. Arrears clearance will also unlock resources from other IFIs and would allow a Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative decision point to help Sudan get its large debt challenge under control. There are several steps to be taken on this path, including the robust macro reforms as the Government has been doing; reconciling debt owed to creditors; and coming to agreement on the debt workout. Here I would like to point out that Sudan’s external debt is large: it is expected to reach $56 billion by end-2020. But a large share of debt is interest arrears caused by an accumulation of decades of compound interest.
The process of clearing arrears is challenging, and we can’t be sure of the precise timeline. But we are determined to move this along as fast as possible. Sudan is a priority for Africa and the world and the time for action and solutions is now.
I call on countries and other international organizations to step up and give Sudan the best chance it can to succeed. The World Bank will do its part as part of the Compact led by the Government of Sudan.