Somalilandsun – The government of Britain has dispatched a highly fact finding team to somaliland led by Lynne Featherstone, UK Parliamentary Under Secretary for International Development. Below is a press statement released by special secretary to the presidential press office Naasir Yuusuf Daahir (Nasir Naska)
The Vice President Abdirahman Abddullahi Ismail “Saylici” met with a high-level delegation from the UK which included Lynne Featherstone, UK Parliamentary Under Secretary for International Development, Neil Wigan, the Ambassador for Somalia and Somaliland, Rachel Turner, the Head of Central and Eastern Africa, Phil Evans, Head of DFID, Pauline Seenan, DFID Lead, Somaliland, and Vicky Seymore, Private Sectary. Other Cabinet members included Dr Saad Ali Shire, Minister for National Planning and Development, Shukri Ismail, Minister for Environment and Rural Development, Dr Abdi Dahir, Minister for Livestock, and Mowlid, Mohammed, the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The delegation led by Lynne Featherstone, UK Parliamentary Under Secretary for International Development were on a fact-finding mission to see first hand projects funded by the UK tax payer, and to discuss with Somaliland leadership issues of mutual interest.
The Vice president welcomed the delegation and emphasized the special relationship between the UK government and Somaliland.
The delegation talked about the success of the Somaliland-UK Investment Forum held last week in London. As a follow up, Dr Saad Ali Shire, Minister for National Planning and Development suggested a conference in Somaliland inviting the same participants.
The Vice President reiterated the government’s commitment to having the elections on time. Ms Featherstone, emphasized the importance of holding the elections on time and expressed support for the process.
“The Somaliland Development Fund (SDF) is a highly innovative fund and everyone is watching it’s success, said Rachel Turner, Director, Central and Eastern Africa, DFID”
Minister Shukri Ismail said, “It is making a difference on the ground as we speak.” Money used to come in drips, now the funds are predictable. The government makes the decision about the funds, designs the projects, and co-manages the implementation of the projects.
In response to a question about progress made by the New Deal since Brussels last year, Dr Saad Ali Shire said, “The SDF has led the way. The SDF has been the vehicle to meet all the Partnership Principles set out in the Somaliland Special Arrangement.” There are other Multi Partner Trust Funds set up post-Brussels including the World Bank Multiparty Fund which is ready, but funds are yet to move.
The Ms Featherstone also emphasized the importance of Public Financial Management Reform, and the approval of the five bills by government and parliament. “It is a signal of the government’s commitment to reform.” Dr Saad Ali Shire provided an update, and said that the government will be ready to report on progress at the next High Level Aid Coordination Forum.
Ms Featherstone raised the issue of the Copenhagen Conference on the Somali Compact. Dr Saad Ali Shire stated that he had very positive discussions last week in Copenhagen with the leadership of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Under the present arrangements, with the Somalia Government and the UN as co-chairs, Somaliland cannot participate. The Government is preparing a progress Report which will be presented at the High Level Aid Coordination Forum on 3 and 4 November, where it will be jointly endorsed by the Somaliland stakeholders and the international community.
The issue of the government’s ability to sustain projects and revenue was raised. The Vice President stated that the government revenue trepled since this government came to office. When it came to power in 2010, the revenue was at USD 47 million. The central government budget proposed for 2015 is USD 180 million.
The under secretary enquired about government’s commitment and progress made on gender equality and protection of women’s rights. MsShukri, the Minister for Environment and Rural Development, responded by stating that the government is very seriously issues such as Female Genital Mutilation, rape and violence against women. She said that in the past no body wanted to talk about but now all these matters are debated publicly, and vigorously pursued by the human rights commission, which is headed by a women.
The Vice President reported that the President wanted to have a quota formula for women in the elections and proposed it twice, however, it was rejected by Parliament.
The government asked for support with the Turkey talks between Somalia and Somaliland, and urged the international community to support the talks. Neil Wigan, the Ambassador for Somalia and Somaliland stated that he emphasized the importance of the talks to the President of Somalia.
Dr Saad Ali Shire stressed the importance of the Safe Corridor for Remittances and pointed out to the serious consequences that would have for Somaliland, it the British Banks stop sending money to Somaliland. Dr Saad said that it would be better if it were regulated, and the transfers were seen, than the money transfer system to go underground to keep the funds flowing. Rachel Turner said that the UK government is aware of the importance and will be looking at the Safe Corridor.
The government also discussed the importance of supporting the government with its efforts on Ebola. Phil Evans, the Head of DFID Somalia and Somaliland stated that he is ready to talk more with the government on this.
In closing, the Vice President raised the following points:
o There should be a special envelope for Somaliland, that is not approved by Mogadishu
o The amount allocated to SDF, is increased
o There are more funds allocated to infrastructure projects – which make is key to economic growth
o That the UK should also participate in the Turkey talks.