Somaliland: Show Us the Money

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Jamal Madar wants tangible proof of fundsOp-ed

Source: hornnewspaper.com/

The minister of finance, Abdiaziz Samale, appears to be in a fierce competition with his predecessor, Mohamed Hashi, by portraying himself as a man who has actually performed above and beyond of what could reasonably be expected of him

Since his assumption of the new post, The finance minister told various local media outlets that the revenues from the customs at Togwajaale “tripled”, that the revenues from Kalabaydh customs had “substantially increased” and that the nation’s wallet is getting fatter at Borama and Seyla customs in the western part of the country where people are starving to death and the government officials are still fuming with the international donors for dragging their feet to come to the rescue of the drought-affected people in that area.

By the same token, the minister also tells us that the income from Berbera port customs had increased. In a nutshell, we are led to believe that, with Samale at helm of the ministry of finance, the country is still in a pretty financial shape. But there are more questions than answers on whether the income from these customs had actually doubled or even substantially increased as the minister would like us to believe.

Samale’s predecessor, Mohammed Hashi, was unquestionably a safe of pair of hands. His record of achievement speaks for itself. Although he was a man with no shortage of political nemesis, yet he earned the respect of friends and foes alike for his adept handling of the country’s finances.

As soon as he took up the new post, Hashi began to overhaul the entire ministry of finance, put in place a new system of financial supervision, staved off the greedy elements who only serve their bellies and rooted out the corruption and other unnecessary waste of tax payer’s money in such a way the he had succeeded in doubling the country’s budget with flying colours.

Hashi increased the country’s budget up from 53 million in 2010 to 95 million in 2011- less than a year after his official appointment. By the time he lost his post in a bizarre mini cabinet reshuffle, he had paid off the mountain of debt left behind by the previous corrupt government officials that used the national coffers like their own piggy bank, and used to distribute tax payers money like a drunken sailor.

When the world was reeling from shocking economic meltdown and citizens of many countries throughout the world still remain in dire financial straits, Hashi categorically stated that he had doubled the country’s budget. Naturally, the public was skeptical, and rightly so, about his miraculous achievement. No one took his word for it.

Despite some initial hiccups, he proved his point beyond any doubt when he “has raised the salaries of the military and government employees so that their salaries would be twice of what it used to be.”

In addition to doubling the salaries of military personnel and government employees, Hashi stated that the government has set up the salaries of teachers at public schools and cancelled the fees that used to be levied at government schools, according to Somaliland Times.

“We will continue to improve the salaries of military personnel and public employees until it gets to a decent level,” Hashi said.

Despite his big ego and hot-headedness eventually led to his eventual downfall, never the less, no one should doubt his undeniable achievement, integrity and commitment to fiscal discipline. His fight against government waste at all levels often put him in direct collision with his ministerial colleagues.

In the final analysis, any reasonable person would agree that Hashi is perhaps the only minister who deserves our utmost respect for his hard work, principled stand on fighting corruption and constantly staving off vultures that characterized to snatch every penny from state coffers.

An outspoken MP from the House of Elders, Abdillahi Ibrahim Hersi, once remarked that president Silanyo appointed “a minister who masters in hoarding money but now needs to appoint another minister who is expert in dishing out money.”

This government has been dogged by successive allegations of embezzlement of public funds. Cabinet ministers have been accused of swindling large amounts of money that was meant for their respective ministries.

The governor of Hargeisa was convicted and sentenced to three years of imprisonment following misappropriation of aid consignment donated by State of Oman. The director of finance and administration of the ministry of information is being held in custody for embezzlement of funds pending a trial.

The problem is that the government has lost credibility over these misappropriations of state funds and the ever-increasingly skeptical public could not be easily swayed about claims that the budget had increased under Samale.

If however the new finance minister, Abdiaziz Samale, had, indeed, brought more cash into the state coffers as he claims and the nation’s purse is fat with cash and not with papers then he should show us the money.

Jamal Madar

adammadar@yahoo.com

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