SOMALIA: Burco bread sellers detained for price hike‏

Published: May 18, 2011

The Burco district police detained  40 bread sellers yesterday after “ they raised the price of piece of bread was raised from 300 Somaliland shillings to 500 Somaliland shillings.” 
Burco district authorities allege that the sellers’ decision to raise the price of bread was timed  to coincide with the termination  of the use of Somali shilling in Burco. “ You have increased the price of bread by 50% and we have information  from the criminal investigation department and other reliable sources that restaurateurs will rise the price of food they sell too,” Ahmed Abdi Falay, the chairman Burco district  assembly  told the bread sellers detained in Burco central police  station, according to Somali Channel  correspondent Mohamed Awad Mohamed.
One of the bread sellers challenged the district authorities’ allegations: “ we wake up to new price for  wheat flour every morning.  The price of a piece of bread is  Somaliland Shilling 500 , same price as the price for a piece of bread in 1994 when a 50 kg of wheat  flour was  US $14, now it costs US $ 32.” 
Had the regional administration collected data on prices of food items , it would have been easier to check the validity of the bread seller’s argument.
In the absence of such data , Somaliland government had better avoid quashing business initiatives of its citizens. In 1988 former Somali Minster of Finance, Abdirahman  Jama Barre attempted to  set prices of food  rations sold wholesale in Mogadishu markets  after his ministry  signed with International Monetary Fund  an SAP ( Structural Adjustment programme) agreement to devalue  the Somali shilling and auction dealers. Mogadishu traders hoarded food rations.
The former Somaliland president  Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal, who was then a president of the former  of Somali Chamber conferences wrote an insightful essay in Sahan  bulletin in which he  advised the Somali government against IMF’s SAP. It is ironic that Somaliland government is taking a leaf from a discredited book to politicise business on which livelihoods of many people in Somaliland depend.
Liban Ahmad
 Horseed Media

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