Somalia: Printing currency for Somalia now would be a betrayal

Published: May 2, 2010

After twenty years of civil war Somalia still remains stateless and unstable. However, in spite of this, the Transitional Government is printing a new currency. On 12 January 2010, a deal costing $17 million to print new currency for Somalia has been signed between the head of currency printing office of Sudan Mohammed Al-Hassan Al-Bahi, and the Transitional Government’s Finance Minister Sharif Hassan Sheikh. At least one of the media outlets has labeled it: a “stateless nation is printing a stateless currency.”
The Transitional Government’s move to print currency only adds to a story the Somali people know only too well. Throughout the civil war individuals and administrators have printed notes which had devastating impact on the cost of living and the economy. In the civil war, the motive behind printing currency has always been greed. With disregard to the country and its people, invariably, the greed behind printing false money has been to exchange it with millions of US dollars circulating in the country and deposit it in foreign banks’ accounts.
Contrary to the TG Finance Minister’s argument — printing currency for lawless Somalia will not “contribute positively” to the economy. [1] Somalis in Puntland know too well the devastation printed money causes to the local economy and price hikes it heaps on food and other commodities. For that reason, the last time former Puntland administrators attempted to introduce printed money to the semi-autonomous region, the elders and business community forced them to abandon the plan and the money printed in the Far East was burned.
Puntland administrators have openly denounced the Transitional Government’s deal to print money with the help of Sudan. In an interview to Shabelle Radio in Mogadishu, Puntland Information Minister Abdikarim Ahmed Guled described the deal illegal. However, Puntland authorities have gone quiet about this catastrophic issue since the visit of the TG Finance Minister Sharif Hassan to the semi-autonomous region. Ahmedou Ould Abdalla, the UN Representative to Somalia was also on the Finance Minister’s delegation to Puntland.
No doubt one day when the nation is at peace and our banks are functioning, Somalia will need a new currency to replace the old note and counterfeit in circulation, tackle inflation and restore the value of the shilling. However, printing currency now will only inflame the astronomical inflation in the country, make the cost of living beyond the reach of the poor and destroy the fragile economy.
The Transitional Government has been hijacked by the greed of a few individuals who cost it credibility and the loss of its path to sound governing. A telling of its method of doing things is its latest scheme to recover Somalia’s national assets frozen in international banks. The TG has recently assigned Ali Abdi Amalow, a former Governor of Somalia’s Central Bank to look for assets held in banks in Europe and elsewhere. Regrettably, the Transitional Government has become like a shop owner who has only an eye for the cashbox and not the hard work needed to keep the business going.
Sheikh Sharif’s Presidency is the Somali people’s Presidency. It belongs to us. However, a large number of the Somali people are convinced that the greed of a few individuals is behind its paralysis and impotence which is costing the Government effectiveness and popular support. This is a disservice which the Transitional Government has to address before it is too late.
Funds are tools to re-establish services and authority and anyone in any government who is diverting funds for personal enrichment is cutting off its arteries and — wittingly or unwittingly — bringing it down. If the Transitional Government is serious to do the task it has been elected and mitigate suffering, there are ways to secure funds. The best way a government can raise funds is to use resources appropriately and where they are needed. That way they would be re-establishing authority and proving worthy for funding.
There are crucial bridges Somalia needs to cross before printing new money. The Transitional Government was elected to take Somalia out of its crises by removing obstacles to peace and normality. For his own sake and for the nation Sheikh Sharif should stop at once the currency which is being printed. His government will go down in infamy if the printed money is introduced in the country.
Somalia to get better is the interest of every Somali. However, the opportunity to mend Somalia has been repeatedly wasted by individuals who seek high office to accumulate ill-gotten wealth. In today’s Transitional Government things are so bad. A few persons in high office view paying for the army, front line services such as policing and civil servants similar to wasting money from their own pocket (bank account). This is taking greed to a new level unheard of in Somalia. President Sheikh Sharif should restore the trust and credibility squandered by greedy individuals in his Government who were attracted to public service not to help the Somali public but themselves.
1. Sudan Tribune
Abdullahi Dool

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