As the power supplier says it does not care whether one is a civil servant paid in Somaliland shillings or not, so its either dollars or blackout for clients
By: Yusuf M Hasan
Somalilandsun- I don’t care whether you are a civil servant or not our bills are paid in dollars only and not Somaliland shillings.
This was addressed to a youthful civil servant by a cashier of the Hargeisa Energy Company as he tried paying his family’s electricity bill for the month of April earlier this month.
Appealing that he did not have any dollars since his pa was in Somaliland shillings which is the official and legal tender in the country the civil servant, name withheld, was in pains as he explained that this month as opposed to earlier ones he could not exchange his Somaliland shillings to dollars owing to the high rate of exchange.
Despite these entreatments the Hargeisa elegy company told the distraught civil servant that her companies policy was explicit in the currency it bills it clients and expects payments in, that is American dollars.
“If you don’t have dollars please leave my office and expect u to cut your electricity supply for none payment” said the cashier
Ironically the demand for dollar payment for services was being effected at an office located within the government owned commercial bank in Hargeisa opposite the central police station.
While citizens have regularly complained that the presidential directive issued earlier in the year that all service payment in the country be made and recovered in Somaliland shillings, the brazen demand made by the Hargeisa energy company while listed within central bank property is astounding
In his directive the president who was geared on stabilizing the upward spiraling prices of basic commodities occasioned by high rates of exchange between the dollar and local currency, was explicit on all and sundry observing this rule to the letter in lieu of legal action.
Wile many continue to demand dollars in exchange for goods or services the se like our civil servant paid in Somaliland shillings are suffering the most since the dollar is exchanging at over 9000 shs in Hargeisa though a presidential directive set the rate of exchange of a dollar at 7000 shs.
The cry more poignant to the situation of our interest her, is the fact that the Hargeisa Energy company was formerly owned under the name Hargeisa Electricity company before it was privatized in 2015.
Following the privatization which we undertaken pursuant to all legalities pertaining to disposal of public property the government still retains 20% shares in the new company. So this is a direct refusal by a quasi public agency to implement presidential directives in this instance as related to billing and receiving payment in Somaliland shillings .
With this type of flagrant non implementation of government directives many citizens are bearing a huge burden which coupled with the ongoing drought that has almost eliminated 75% of livestock, the country’s economic mainstay thence subsequent inflation action is imperative.
As for our civil servant who was adamant that his salary is in Somaliland shillings thence unable to acquire dollars and afraid of being denied Electricity a compromise we reached, half payment of the $40 April bill to be paid in dollars and the balance in local currency.
Apart from the burdening demand for payment in dollars the high cost of electricity charged at $1 per a watt by the local suppliers is almost taking the country to ground as observed by a visiting Diaspora Somalilander whose astonishment drove him to write that The high cost of electricity is killing our country