By: Yusuf M Hasan
LAS ANOD (Somalilandsun) – 17 people are reportedly injured following confrontation with security forces.
Hurt to the traders occurred during an operation to disperse demonstrating Khat traders who were protesting a tax increment imposed by the Somaliland ministry of finance.
“while we accept payment of taxes to the government the one in contention is legal thence our protest” said Mohamed Abdi Arale ‘Jabutawi’ during an interview with Ramaasnews in which he queried why the ministry of finance is targeting only miraa/Khat importers from Kenya
According to Jabutawi the tax increment is legal and smells fishy since only miraa imports were targeted while Hereri from Ethiopia continue to pay the same taxes as before.
Somaliland where Khat chewing is rampant imports almost 90% of the green leafed stimulant herb from Ethiopia-Hereri with Kenya’s’ miraa augmenting the balance.
“We believe the miraa tax increase in Las Anod which distributes to vast areas of the country is a ploy by the finance minister to protect her nephew who is the main importer/supplier of Miraa in Hargeisa” said Jabutawi
Somalilandsun investigations reveal that the owner of Barje Safi, the company that imports Khat from Kenya and Ethiopia has no filial relations with finance minister Zamzam Abdi though they both belong to the Saad Muse clan.
Meanwhile the Las Anod customs officer Mahmud Dagaweine says that his office is obligated to collect Miraa tax in its new value unless otherwise ordered by his bosses in Hargeisa who issued the increment directive in the first place.
This protest by Miraa traders comes in the heels of a similar one recently that saw the Sool regional Governor Yasin Mohamed order closure of the ministry of commerce offices in Las Anod.
The Governors’ closure ordered which is still in effect thus paralyzing revenue collection is related to increase of business license fees imposed by central government authorities and disputed by traders with the support of the regional administrator.