Interviews

Sudanese Minister of Investment talks to «AlTaghyeer»

Claims 170 projects have been seized by the government and are currently under scrutiny

The Sudanese Minister of Investment, al-Hadi Mohammed Ibrahim, revealed to AlTaghyeer that “170” law-violating projects have been seized and confiscated by the Sudanese government.

AlTaghyeer: Interview: Ala’a Musa

 The Sudanese Minister of Investment and International Cooperation confirmed that most of the projects that were expropriated in favor of the government were used for purposes other than those approved.

Al-Hadi noted that these projects are currently under review and evaluation.

In an interview with AlTaghyeer, the minister said that he is in the process of recording a visit to the “Amta’ar” project after the Eid al-Adha holiday, in order to learn more about it and then accordingly, issue a decision on it.

The Minister of Investment denied concluding contracts with investors that would allow them to benefit from agricultural lands for up to 99 years.

In this matter, al-Hadi pointed towards the leaders of the deposed regime of as those responsible for unjustly allocating lands to investors.

There are questions concerning the reasons for the delay of the Sudanese delegation’s Saudi Airlines flight … was the inspection the reason?

We missed the Saudi Airlines flight last week after we had refused to undergo inspection and returned to our offices. The Saudi ambassador then, in a moment’s notice, called us and apologized to the head of the delegation and announced that the flight was in place, and a private plane was rented, and what had transpired was nothing but a mere misunderstanding due the captain’s unawareness of the presence of Sudanese ministers abroad the flight.

Did the state sponsor the private jet’s rental?

The plane was not state-sponsored but rather rented by a group of businessmen.

What purpose does a ministerial delegation visit to Saudi Arabia serve at this time?

The visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came at a kind invitation from the Kingdom’s government after it saw the importance of cooperation with Sudan in the areas of proposed investments.

Prior to the visit, I had personally met the Governor of the Saudi Investment Fund last March, and presented him with a proposal that he liked and invited the Ministers of Finance, Energy and Investment to visit the Kingdom accordingly to discuss projects that may be presented during the next stage.

What were the outcomes of the visit?

The visit resulted in an interview with “8” of the Kingdom’s ministries, the governor of the Saudi Bank, and no less than “40” institutions and companies, all of which expressed a desire to invest in Sudan.

The Sudanese delegation presented a clear vision for the Red Sea issue due to our long experience in this field.

 What vision does the Sudanese Minister of Investment have regarding the development of the ports, especially since they suffer from structural problems?

The vision is represented in that the ports are prepared to serve the countries that do not have outlets on the Red Sea, and we mentioned to them that the rehabilitation of the ports is linked to a package of projects, including the Upper Atbara project, energy, animal and agricultural production, transportation and railways, which are integrated.

They [the Saudis] have expressed their approval of what we presented, which led to understandings that would lead us to where we want due to Saudi Arabia being one of the countries eligible for investment in Sudan.

Did the visit discuss the issue of investment in al-Fashaga?

The issue of investing in al-Fashaga was not discussed because the Sudanese government has not decided to open the opportunity to invest in it until now, and the offer made by the UAE was rejected by all segments of the Sudanese population as they felt the offer detracted from Sudan’s sovereignty over the land of al-Fashaga.

Some believe that the Sudanese environment is not well prepared for investment.

This is not true.

The [Sudanese] environment has become fully prepared for investment, as evidenced by the fact that “4” major projects have begun to work, and these investments are a result of Sudan’s exit from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, its integration into the international community, its entry into the “HIPC” program and the decision to exempt it from the debts that it owes.

The Minister at his office

But does the law still constitute as an obstacle for investors?

Sudanese investment law has had major reforms happen in it and the “Hebti” law – partnership between the public and private sectors – in addition to making reforms within the Ministry of Investment through introducing a new investment map, unifying the existing windows into one single window to simplify procedures for the investor, the two-window law banking reforms which allow foreign banks to enter the country and deal with the well-known traditional formulas, unlike the Islamic formulas.

Has the problem of intersections between the center [Khartoum] and the states with regard to lands been resolved?

The law has already dealt with the land problem, and stipulated that the investor should not certify any land until after making sure that this land is permissible.

Previously, projects were given without making sure that they were fully certified, and this led to problems and conflict between the investor and the people.

The new law also removed the historical problems that were occurring in coordination between the center and the states, and named the law the state, national or federal project, and stipulated the work of coordinators in the states.  These coordinators gather all in a “WhatsApp” group to publish and introduce laws.

How does the new law deal with the lands that were granted to investors for a period of “99” years?

The law never provided for any investor to be granted land for “99” years, nor did the 2013 law which amended in 2021 discuss such a thing, but rather it gave the authority to lease the land to recover capital, making it discretionary and within limits, but the exceptions that occurred during the era of the ousted Bashir have infringed upon the law.

This is now considered a transgression committed by the leaders of the deposed regime through unjustly giving lands to investors, and most of these lands have been expropriated in favor of the Sudanese government.

How many projects have been canceled/removed so far?

There are projects that have been canceled in the northern state, and other projects that have been removed from their owners for violating the law, and these projects are no less than “170” projects, currently under review, while others have been removed and returned to their owners.

Pardon me… but what are the projects that have been returned to their owners?

Among the projects that were returned to their owners is the al-Rajhi project, owner of huge investments in Sudan, providing many charitable works in the Northern State and the Nile River state, and its projects represent a large part of the Sudanese national economy, and therefore it was treated exceptionally.

Was the return based on certain conditions?

There are no conditions, and development takes into account the volume of investments, as well as Sudan’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and the accumulated benefit from the two countries’ experiences in development and investment.

What about the “Am’taar” project, especially since it occupies vast lands?

We will visit the “Amt’aar” project immediately after the Eid al-Adha holiday to find out about the problems related to investors and their ability to invest, and then evaluate the situation and accordingly make decisions, review all the projects that were carried out in the past period, and the projects that were used for purposes other than those that were ratified for.

Some investors have put their investments up for sale, and this shows a lack of seriousness on the part of the investor, which will subject them to scrutiny.

What are the penalties imposed on investors who renounce contracts?

The law does not have penalties, but if the investor is exempted from the fees, he will not leave Sudan until after having paid those fees and some special procedures will be taken to recover the state’s money from him.

In the past era, the investment field witnessed great corruption, especially when it came to selling lands. Have these lands been recovered?

Corruption in investment is of two types; one of which involves the ministry and is linked to the state leaders, and the ministry itself was not an exception to that, but rather it has become a form of organized corruption, especially in the field of licensing and decisions issued against investors. In my opinion, the ministry was previously removed from its position so that corruption could go undetected, or else there would have been no reason to remove it from its former place.

What of the projects that were recently repossessedfrom the leaders of the former regime?

There are a number of projects that were recovered by the Empowerment Removal Committee, and we did not receive those projects because of their direct relationship with matters of public money, thus they were transferred to the Ministry of Finance.

Speaking of the Empowerment Removal Committee there, the committee has stated that some employees in the ministry have been unjustly dismissed.

I met with all the brothers against whom a decision was issued by the Empowerment Removal Committee, and I asked anyone who complained unfairness to file an appeal against the decision, and assign those whom they see fit to be lawyers to defend it, so that their grievance will be considered.

Some of the arbitrarily dismissed employees were returned from the free zones and their letters reached the ministry. I also sat with the committee and it gave me the reasons for the dismissal of these employees.

Did the reasons seem convincing to you?

Completely convincing. A large part of them had document [proof]…

Did these documents describe acts of corruption by the dismissed persons?

I do not want to disclose it, because when we came to the ministry, our goal was not to cause a person physical or moral harm, and it was not possible to keep these people in light of the existing circumstances.

What about the designated Secretary-General, especially since he is affiliated with the revolution?

The Secretary-General in charge is one of those covered by this decision, and he did not file an appeal against the decision, so we cannot return him to work in the ministry.

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