Official: Gold Sector Losses Exceed $100 Million

Sudan Events
By Nahid Ochi

The April 15 war in Sudan cast a negative shadow on all aspects of life, as it has impacted the wheel of the economy and paralyzed the commercial, political and social activities. Sudan Events conducted an interview with the Public Relations and Media secretary of the Gold Division –cum-Director of Manufacturing and Exporting Gold Company, Atif Ahmed Abdul Qader, to spell out some of the aspects that affected the gold sector as a result of the war.

-What is the impact of the ongoing war on the economic sector, and gold in particular?
– Qader : A very huge impact indeed, just look at these examples: the Sudan Refinery was robbed and the Gold Center (the
Gold Building in down town Khartoum) was looted and the shops and offices were destroyed. This is a huge loss that affects the private sector and anyone working in the field of gold trade and businessmen has been greatly impacted. We do not consider this a national “price” that we had to pay but, rather, it is a kind of barbarism which targeted this sector.

– Many workers in the gold sector have moved their activities abroad and others transferred their business to the regions? To the states?
– Indeed, many businessmen working in the gold sector have moved their activities from Khartoum to the states. The evidence is that politics in Sudan made Khartoum the center for all and each activity, be it a small and big business. Some of the possible positive aspect of this war is that it made the government pay attention to other cities in the Sudan and try to create a kind of vitality in them, as activities moved even though they were forced, but the consumer finds markets in terms of organization and purchasing activity, and it should be for any of the different cities in Sudan a legal status in terms of the availability of services. As for those who moved their activities outside Sudan, they are forced. But of course investors are usually reluctant to take risk and those with capitals search for zero-risk business. The activity of those abroad is limited because they enter new markets, and competition is little different from activities in our country.

– How much do you estimate the goods lost as a result of the attack on the Gold Building?
– The losses incurred by workers in the gold sector are huge and the losses are estimated at millions of dollars. So far, the amount of losses from the refinery and the gold looted from the marketplaces and what the merchants were exposed to are huge. We cannot make an inventory of those losses now. The war has to stop and then we will be able to make the inventory, but the losses could be no less than one hundred million dollars. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning agreed to cancel Decision No. 44 issued by the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company imposing 400 pounds per gram of gold upon transporting.

– In your view, to what extent does this step contribute to the advancement of the sector?
– The decision of the Ministry of Finance has been called for by all of us for such a long time and it has good effect. Currently, there has been movement and activity in the gold market and the movement of exports and the private sector is currently acting to the activities and circle towards exporting gold, and during the last ten days, approximately (700) kilos have been exported, and the same is at Sudan Specifications & Metrology Organization (SSMO), and you could sense the active movements towards gold export.

– Is the gold exported still able to provide the treasury with rewarding returns?
– The fact that government relies on gold export during the coming period that follow the end of the war, shows you that gold is the best means for bringing in foreign currencies to the national coffer. The banks are active with the Central Bank of Sudan in the working a rewarding price of the proceeds. There is an active movement, and we expect that in the coming days, the exports will be in a larger quantity.

– To what extent can gold contribute to the construction and reconstruction of Sudan after the war?
– This is what we talked about a long time ago, that gold can contribute to construction if there are wise policies, rational decisions, and easing of bureaucratic procedures. For example, any company must complete its procedures in one day, but it takes a period of four or five days. There is bureaucracy and a large number of overlapping authorities in charge. We demand a single window from all sides in one office to speed up procedures. The presence of such a body (the Mineral Resources Company, the Customs, the Bank, the SSMO, and the Intelligence Service) is one of the obstacles, as each of these bodies takes a whole day. Therefore, we demand the presence of a single window to ease export procedures in order to speed up its revenues.

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