By Omer Erdem
The Central Bank of Sudan said Tuesday that new banknotes will be released this month as the country grapples with a severe economic crisis and cash shortage.
“With an aim to resolve the banknote issue gradually, [Sudanese pound] banknotes of 100 ($2.10), 200 ($4.20) and 500 ($10.51) will be launched in mid-January,” Central Bank Governor Mohamed Khair Al-Zubair told a press conference in the capital Khartoum.
He said they hoped to resolve the problem until April, noting the highest banknote on the market -- the 50 pound note -- is worth one dollar.
Sudan has long been struggling with a serious economic crisis.
Rising demand for cash due to inflation and the central bank’s policy of restricting the money supply to protect the pound have led to a sharp liquidity crunch.
The cash shortage has hit an all-time high, prompting the release of banknotes higher than 50 pounds for the first time.
The central bank also announced Tuesday that it intends to reduce the country’s inflation rate to 27.1 percent this year after it hit a record 68.93 percent in December.
Sudanese authorities say at least 19 people were killed last month in street demonstrations in several states against rising prices and shortages of basic commodities.
Opposition groups say the death toll is closer to 40.
The authorities announced a state of emergency and curfew in a number of provinces over the protests, with government officials accusing Israel of plotting with rebel groups to foment violence in the country.
A nation of 40 million, Sudan has struggled to recover from the loss of three-quarters of its oil output -- its main source of foreign currency -- when South Sudan seceded in 2011.