“The government of Somaliland has made tremendous progress and the international community is ready to help these achievements through support to the country’s National Vision and the National Development Plan” Mr. Erik Solheim, Chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), during his recent visit to Somaliland
By: Abdul-Aziz Al-Mutairi
Somalilandsun – The Somaliland cabinet approved $212 million budget for 2014 which is about 705 increases from last year’s $125 million without international recognition and support. This is more than budgets of many African countries including Somalia. In 2010, Somaliland budget was $47 million only.
Somaliland does not get international investment due to its unrecognized diplomatic status, in addition, Somaliland does not have access to the World Bank and IMF. Somaliland develops infrastructure without outside support or aid, which is good example to Africa. International Labor Organization (ILO) don’t support Somaliland in fighting unemployment. This diplomatic embargo is teaching Somaliland how to survive on its own income. It is the only country that has no loan.
Former Minister of Finance Mr. Mohamed Hashi Elmi had major role in reshaping Somaliland budget and tax collection system, where he lifted the budget from $47 million to $150 million in one year. Elmi’s successor has followed the roadmap, which further lifted the budget to a milestone of $212 million in less than three years.
In 26th June 1960, British ended their rule in Somaliland and new nation was born that had elected Prime Minister and four cabinet ministers. Thirty four countries recognized Somaliland, world media wrote about Somaliland and even Mr. Malcolm X, an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist, underscored the importance of Somaliland’s independence in one of his famous lectures.
However, the people of Somaliland enthusiastically united with former Italian Somalia and formed new nation called “Somali Republic” at 1st July 1960. This was an attempt to unite all Somali-speaking ethnic group in the horn of Africa under the irrational slogan of ‘SomaliWayn’. After one year from the unity, Somalilanders organized military coup to withdraw from the unity but the coup failed. Former officers of Somaliland Scouts led the coup.
In 18th May 1991 and after many years of dictatorship and melancholy including 12 years of armed freedom struggle, Somaliland declared unilateral independence from the rest of Somalia.
The current government led by H.E. President Ahmed Siilaanyo has accelerated tax collections which contributed in the budget increase. The government availed tax collection offices at every corner in the country including public places and roadsides. During my recent visit to Somaliland, I discovered that someone can pay tax while in traffic jam, which is unique style to increase revenue.
At Egal Airport, an international airport located at Hargiesa, the tax collection was on high-speed and even passenger can pay other bills before departing the country. Although, the collection is manual process but is very efficient and up to the target. The custom officers at the airport are disciplined and aware of their duties, in addition to excellent customer service skills. The passenger can pay the tax using different currencies like USD and Kuwaiti Dinars with help from the exchange companies like Dahabshiil.
The 2014 Budget includes $4 million for road maintenance and constructions. The education sector is another major beneficiary of the current budget. Somaliland has plans of drilling oil by 2014. The salaries of the employees will be increased as promised by the government during parliamentary debate.
Somaliland decorated its national security departments including army forces, police and jails authority with ranks. Every officer will get paid according per his/her security rank. The Armed Forces has loin’s share in the budget due to volatility in the region. Somaliland neighbors Somalia where Al-shabab terrorist organization are battling the African forces.
Somaliland, heavily, invests in its security after three suicide bombers targeted UNDP Office in Hargiesa, Presidential Palace and the Ethiopian Embassy in Hargiesa.
The current Kulmiye led government lifted the fees on public schools. Today, every child can attend 12 years of schooling for free. This is very unique quality in Africa, and Somaliland illiteracy rate will fall to zero in the coming five years. 90% of the Somaliland children has access to school including villagers.
The health sector in Somaliland is boosted by the private hospitals that provides avoidable services to the citizen, alongside free-of-cost public hospitals. In my recent visit to Hargiesa, I discovered large number of patients are coming from Somalia, Ethiopia and even from Djibouti to receive the avoidable medical services in Somaliland.
ADNA Maternity Hospital produces thousands of well-trained midwives and nurses. This reduced the childbirth deaths to its minimal, as you can find skilled midwifes and nurses at every village across Somaliland.
In other hand, Somaliland universities produces skilled medical staff including doctors, lab technicians, etc… I visited one of the hospital in Hargiesa and discovered that all staff from cleaners to the managers including doctors, nurses and therapists are graduates of Somaliland medical schools.
Ten years ago and during my last visit, The UN staff were handling the public hospitals due to lack of trained medical staff. This illustrates that Somaliland achieved self-sufficiency in the medical services. The government adds 92 million Somaliland Shilling in the annual budget for every public university in the country. This is to encourage the education development.
International community is paying a lot of money to stabilize Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. Thousands of African Union Forces are fighting Al-Shabab in Mogadishu. This military presence costs the world huge sum of money. The world sponsored many peace conference for Somalians to settle down their differences, but all ended up without positive outcome.
In order to achieve lasting peace in Somalia, the world must adopt the plan of Somaliland towards Somalia. The independence of Somaliland must be accepted, in order to let Somaliland stabilize the former sister. Somaliland has experience of stabilizing Somalia, because Somaliland Scouts imposed curfew on Mogadishu in 1960 and eliminated the robberies and armed bandits off Mogadishu streets.
By\ Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi