Thursday, June 14, 2012

Business as unusual..

I remember a few years ago when my mum first got the idea to import lakoom aka as Turkish delights, to Sudan, that was just the beginning, a lot of other products came after. It was so exciting. A few weeks into it, hearing about procedures I would get surprised about some trade policies that restricted the ease of commerce in Sudan. besides the high custom duties, cargos would get held up for many days without reason, talking to each official or asking for help meant you needed to dish out money every time. Everything moved slowly. Another issue was the fact that stores would never pay on time, mind you this was before things got as bad as they are now. It wasn't easy.

In more recent times after the secession of the North and South, the government began losing funds generated by the oil industry, and led to the instability of the exchange rate. It is even harder now to do business in or with Sudan, and this is when she decided that it was enough. It was time to pull out of Sudan, it was getting costly, time consuming and hardly any returns were received. I always thought maybe the business could succeed and someday i'll take over, but when you look at the whole picture you realize that the Sudanese economy is not an easy one to breach, or to become established in.

In a country like ours where the government needs to formulate policies that make it easy to trade both in Sudan and with other countries, unfortunately this is not the case. By making it easy, and encouraging entrepreneurship especially amongst the youth they would combat unemployment and eventually increase their own budget. All it takes is a little patience. Again unfortunately this patience is unheard off, so what has happened now to sum it up is a big ball of instability.

Instability, the businessperson's enemy. A businessperson would literally halt all their operations if they don't feel a sense of stability in the economy. Taxation/custom duties now are not only very high, but always increasing. Imagine making a budget with a certain amount set for taxes and the next time you send a cargo realise it has increased by 50%, money which you now don't have, and the product is just sitting there in Port Sudan or the airport. Instability is extremely expensive. Factories should have some sort of subsidies and support from government which i doubt they're receiving, not to mention high transport costs, poor coordination and communication between private and public sectors, all which hinder economic activity and ease of trade. We may not be able to export oil as we once used to, naturally this would mean to focus on other products such as sesame, cotton, gum Arabic, cattle and sugar, all of which are in the primary sector of agricultural produce.

Yes, we need to turn to agriculture, and invest in the sector; with the use of modern farming machinery and techniques. At the same time we need to keep in mind the millions of graduates who now need jobs in the service sector and manufacturing sectors. It's no wonder after slaving for a higher education, that graduates who do not find work prefer to go abroad and settle down elsewhere. It is a loss to the economy and will hit us hard..if it hasn't already.

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