Puntland Minister: Mogadishu meeting was unconstitutional, non-binding. The conference, which involved Finance Ministers and representatives from the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), Banadir Regional Administration (BRA), and Federal Member States (FMS), recently concluded in Mogadishu. Puntland’s Finance Minister was not invited.
Garowe, Puntland, SOMALIA. By Dalmar:
Kicking off on Sunday, the two-day conference on intergovernmental fiscal federalism delved into various topics, such as the unification of tax laws, financial reforms, and meeting debt relief prerequisites. Discussions also revolved around development projects supported by foreign donors and financial grants.
The participants forged an agreement on the following fronts:
- Endorsing the Technical Committee’s recommendation for the unification of direct taxation: Participants achieved a complete consensus on merging the vertical tax. They also agreed on an accelerated timeline for passing this bill before 2024 in order to execute the 2024 annual budget allocation for both the FGS and FMS.
- Harmonizing port tariffs: The participants agreed to establish a uniform tariff rate and swiftly implement it across the country. Additionally, they asked the Technical Committee to make recommendations.
- Allocation of World Bank funds: The meeting evaluated self-assessment reports from the FMS. The Office of the Accountant General verified their accuracy. The participants also agreed to share the available budget subsidy based on the procedure mentioned in the agreement of 11 January 2023.
- Strengthening the internal audit: The head of the Internal Audit Department of the Ministry of Finance reported preventative activities of the internal audit and the need to enhance the quality of the audit. The participants then agreed on creating a sub-committee responsible for internal investigations within the Technical Committee.
- SERP progress: The participants were briefed on the Somalia Enhancing Public Resource Management Project (SERP) progress and when it will be fully operational. They agreed to expedite the completion of drafted procedures as soon as possible and to inaugurate the project in September.
Puntland’s signature missing
Noticeably, the joint statement lacked the signature of Puntland’s Finance Minister. Expressing his stance on Twitter, Mohamed Abdirahman Dhabancad asserted that the recent intergovernmental fiscal decisions are not constitutional and, therefore, non-binding.
“The Somalia’s federal state building process must be a country-wide agenda. PL [Puntland] is unequivocally against and not bound to any agreements and bills btw [between) FGS & FMS until they are renegotiated. Any centrally driven partial agreements will truly end up [doing] them again from scratch,” Minister Dhabancad conveyed.
Concerningly, the Ministry of Finance of the Puntland government, an entity pivotal for Somalia’s debt relief process, received no invitation. This omission, critics argue, reflects the central government’s persistent neglect of varying perspectives and ignorance of Somalia’s (federal) governing system.
Observers emphasize that inclusivity is paramount. All member states, not just those reliant on the FGS, should engage in such matters. Strangely, the Finance Minister tweeted, “Reforming together is key for completing the debt relief process,” which Puntland is indeed an essential part of.