Sudan will begin spending €1.2 million provided under the COMESA Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM) program. The financial support was signed in May 2015 but owing to technicalities relating to the disbursements, the utilization of the funds could not commence on time.
The funds were mainly targeted at implementing trade facilitation programmes to support Sudan’s export diversification agenda. This includes intra-regional market expansion as well as enhancing trade capacities for key trade institutions within and outside the government.
RISM is funded by the European Union through a contribution agreement.
Last month, COMESA Secretariat sent a technical team to Khartoum to meet government officials and the European Union Delegation in Sudan in an effort to unlock the impasse. The team led by the Director of Infrastructure Mr. Jean Baptiste Mutabazi engaged various stakeholders in addressing project formulation and project implementation.
Among them were the EU Head of Development and Cooperation in Sudan Mr. Janick Vaa, the Director in the Ministry of Trade Mr. Nadir Awad, the Director General of Land Transportation Unit in the Ministry of Transport Eng. Malik Bashier Mohamed, the National Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee (NIMCC) and the Project Implementation Unit among others.
In the meeting with the EU delegation, outstanding issues relating to delayed disbursements were cleared thus paving pay for the disbursements of the funds. The issues related to the submission of a complete Sudan - Ethiopia Agreement on the Carrier License and the Harmonized Road Transit Charges (HRTC).
The COMESA Carrier’s License allows commercial goods vehicles to be licensed, with one license, which is valid throughout the region so that the vehicles can operate in all Member States. The HRTC specifies the amount that heavy goods trucks should pay as road charge.
The COMESA team facilitated the commencement of project formulation through consultative process involving the (NIMCC). This is expected to increase ownership of project formulation process and expected results at national level.
Eng. Mohamed requested COMESA to share the various Council of Ministers Decisions on the transport facilitation measures in order to review possibilities of effecting cost reflective rates for the HRTC whilst keeping in line with the harmonized provisions. In addition, he appealed for inclusion of a component on weigh bridge maintenance in the new project being formulated.
The team also inducted the newly established Project Monitoring Unit on various aspects of project implementation including record keeping, control systems, financial management, separation of roles etc. to enhance understanding and appreciation of management processes.
In July 2017, the RISM program will again invite eligible Member States to submit request for additional funds amounting to 1,196,239 Euros. In this regard, the COMESA team urged stakeholders in Sudan to ensure the 2016 targets are implemented in order to benefit from the additional resources.
These targets include; Elimination of NTB’s, Harmonization of Standards, Implementation of the Simplified Trade Regime, submission of Schedules of Commitments in the three additional sectors, Double Taxation Agreement and Protocol on Visa Relaxation.