Somaliland: Row over Commercial Banking Law Rages

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As legislature goes on Recess in the heels of massive objections to commercial banking law by country’s Religious leaders whom legislators accuse of promoting monopoly
Members of the Smaliland parliamentary Finance and economic Committee peruse comercial banking law draft with support of assistants

By: Yusuf M Hasan
HASRGEISA (Somalilandsun) – Somaliland legislators are well versed on various religious tenets thus not require teachings especially as pertains to what interest rates.
This was the unanimous stand by Members of parliament in reaction o vehement opposition borne by local religious leaders to the commercial banking law currently pending approval in the august house.
In their sermons during Friday prayers in the country Religious leaders vehemently opposed the new banking law proffering the mandatory interest rate charge as against the tenets of Islam thus urging the house of representative not to approval it while accusing MPs of having been financially coalesced by some stakeholders.
According to popular religious leaders and Islamic law scholar Sheikh Mohamed Sheikh Omar Dirir in his Friday prayer sermon at the Rusheeye Mosque in Hargeisa on 15th January 22016 “Legislators should ensure should treat carefully as pertains the proposed Commercial banking law for it allows for the payment of Riba-Interest rates which is contrary to the teachings of prophet Mohamed PBUH”
While informing that the house has started a two months recess owing to the absence of many members on issues related to the just started Voter registration the deputy speaker Bashe Mohamed Farah said that the commercial banking law has passed all necessary states as per the constitution and shall either receive approval or rejection upon resumption of the house.
Sheikh Mohamed Sheikh Omar Dirir led the Pulpit based onslaught on the Somaliland comercial banking law

“It is surprising that religious leaders are now against The commercial banking law whose version in currently in parliament the already perused and accepted” wondered the deputy speaker as he revealed that the house finance committee had availed the religious leaders copies of the draft law before ultimate tabling.
Stating that the house is well versed on Islamic religious tenets and that it is the duty of legislators to protect citizens against any issues contrary to Islam of which the country adheres to, Bashe Farah told the religious leaders to deter from pulpit lamentations and present their case to the house.
Clearly infuriated by insinuations that legislators have been bribed to legalize RIBA-interest rates MP Saeed Elmi Roble who is a member of the Finance took swipe at the opponents of the commercial banking law, terming it as one emanating from self interest and geared towards denying ordinary citizens access to loans that will help improve their livelihoods.
In his closing remarks to a three days session of the Finance committee where he Urged clear headiness among religious leaders whom he accused of raising public ire at the pulpit MP Saeed Elmi wondered how Somaliland is different from other Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia and numerous other Gulf Countries where Commercial banks operate legally.
Deputy speaker announced house recess“Having commercial banks operate legally in the country is a huge plus for the economy and related improvements in employment opportunites that lead to better livelihoods” said the MP while stating that the two banks operating in the country have links with international commercial banks that charge interest rates.
Acknowledging that the law pending approval at the legislature have provisions for on top payments on to loans the MP said that the draft bill allows banks to secure service charges from clients just as it happens worldwide.
Said He, ” Commercial banks manage to sustain operations as well as accrue profits through charging for services even in Saudi Arabia which is keeper of the two holy mosques not to mention other Gulf countries where the same financial facilities operate in the internationally acknowledge norm” for an extra charge by banks
On the two institutions operating under Islamic banking laws in the country namely Dahabshil and Darasalm banks the legislators said the cry for rejection of the commercial banking law trumpeted by religious leaders was geared towards ensuring monopoly in Somaliland for the said.
The now acrimonious commercial banking law that has been in the house for a long period was drafted by the Central bank and presented to the August house simultaneously with the Islamic banking act which has already received [parliamentary approval and subsequently promulgated into law by the president.
The nine member Somaliland parliamentary Finance and Economic Committee has the mandate to advise the House on issues related to laws and status of the country’s public finances and economy, keeping an oversight over related public and private institutions i.e. ministries with responsibilities on finance, Commerce, Industry, Fisheries, Tourism, Minerals & Energy, Aviation and Banks as well as all sources of public revenue.
The committee derives its operational authority under section 13,14,15,16,17,18 and19 of the Somaliland constitution. For more details contact financecommittee@somalilandparliament.net

MP Saeed Elmi Roble says Commercial bnking law importantAs things stand and owing to the huge impact religious leaders have over most issues in the country where anything deemed contrary to Islam is taboo and the promise by legislators that the bill shall muster upon return from recess, ordinary Somalilanders anxious for the benefits of commercial banking and determined to avoid a religious confrontation have fingers crossed.
In the meantime it is worthy for virtuous religious leaders to refer again to relevant laws thus ascertain whether the commercial law pending approval is against Islamic tenets and either trust legislators or acrimonious.

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