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Somalia among highly improved countries in open budget and transparency- According to Open Budget Survey.

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The recently concluded conference on Integrated National Financing Frameworks (INFF) and Open Budgets for Sustainable Development in Africa praised Somalia’s progress in financial transparency and the open budget process. In late September, a survey on Open Budget was unveiled at the meeting in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

Mr Yussuf Mohamed Adan, Somalia’s State Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, at the Conference.

Somalia joined the Open Budget Survey (OBS) initiative in 2016 and has completed three rounds of (OBS), which are conducted every two years. Somalia’s transparency score in the 2021 round was 20 out of 100, a significant improvement over its previous performance. It was ranked next to Tanzania.

“We are pleased to have been reviewed through this open process.” Our commitment to transparency and public participation in budget and financial processes is clear. “We are determined to provide value and accountability to our people,” said Yussuf Mohamed Adan, Somalia’s State Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, who attended the conference.

“We are excited to use these tools to improve our transparency, oversight, and accountability levels, as well as to help our external partners see value for their investments,” Mr Adan added Somalia is undergoing debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Through the proposed industry of an integrated national financing framework (INFF) and an independent peer review open budget process, experts believe the country can eventually rely on its resources rather than Oversee Development Assistance (ODA).

Dr Mohamed Osman, CEO of Sadar Institute, local host for the Open Budget Initiative in Somalia, and Country Representative for the United Nations University of Peace in Somalia, spoke during the conference.

“The Integrated Financing Framework (INFF) and Open Budget Initiative are unique in that they focus on introducing new financial instruments aimed at financing sustainable development goals in conjunction with national goals and priorities,” said Dr Mohamed Osman, CEO of Sadar Institute, a local host for the Open Budget Initiative in Somalia, and Country Representative for the United Nations University of Peace in Somalia.

“The goal is for developing countries to move beyond reliance on traditional ODA and finance their own Sustainable Development goals in the future,” Dr Mohamed added.

During his opening speech, Nigerian President Mohammadu Buhari emphasized the importance of integrating national budget systems to reduce reliance on foreign aid.

President Mohammadu Buhari during the opening session of the INFF launch event held in New Yor Friday, 23rd September 2022 on the margins of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77) in New York.

While participating virtually, representatives from the Ministry of Finance developed a NIFF short-term action plan focusing on financing reform, establishing a new focus for an open budget, and advancing public financial management reform with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Sadar Institute.

“Somalia will benefit greatly from the results of this survey. It will improve our budgeting process and instill trust in our employees and external partners “Said Mohamed Tahlil Ahmed, the Ministry of Finance’s Head of Budget and Reporting.

“It will open up more oppor Financingt unities for us as we try to overcome the challenges brought on by decades of civil war,” Mr Tahlil added.

Mr Mohamed Tahlil Ahmed, the Ministry of Finance’s Head of Budget Reporting and Monitoring.

 

Representatives from 54 African countries, UN Agencies, Civil Society Organizations, and other development partners attended the four-day Abuja conference.

As the Covid-19 pandemic dealt shocks to both the sustainable development outlook and the means of financing recovery and medium- to long-term progress in 2020 and 2021, interest in integrated national fina ncing grew.

Some of the delegates during the INFF Conference held in Abuja, Nigeria

The African continent has led the way in terms of the number of countries willing to participate in the Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) initiative. More than 40 countries use the approach in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

The term “integrated national financing frameworks,” or INFFs for short, was introduced in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for the very first time. Countries requested INFFs to obtain assistance in implementing their national strategies for sustainable development. During the 2019 United Nations General Assembly, sixteen countries reaffirmed their commitment to being this approach’s pioneers.

INFFs serve as a bridge between the policies that mobilize and regulate public and private funding. They assist governments in aligning and enhancing the contribution of financial policies to national development plans. They facilitate greater collaboration between public and private actors and strengthen the connections between various financing policy areas.

In conclusion, the State Minister of Labor and Social Affairs lauded the efforts of the event’s organizers and Nigeria, the host nation. The State Minister reaffirmed that Somalia would adopt the INFF strategy, as the Ministry of Finance already had plans to promote this initiative. The State Minister emphasized that his ministry will work with the Ministry of Finance to address the public participation score, which requires significant public participation. “We will work with our Ministry of Finance to include public participation in the budget preparation guidelines and throughout the budget process,” stated Yusuf Mohamed, St for State Minister labour and social affairs.

As the conference came to a successful conclusion, countries pledged to advance transparency in the budgeting process and to consider adopting a NIFF. The Somalia delegation, led by State Minister Yusuf Mohamed Adan, participated in a series of side meetings with other countries in the region, including Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, and South Sudan, to discuss enhancing budget transparency and ensuring public participation.

 

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President Hassan Sheikh urges parliament to expedite bills to enhance al-Shabab fight

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President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has called on the House of the Peope to expedite legislation once they are formulated and ratified by the cabinet.

This is aimed at bolstering the government’s response in targeting the militant group Al-Shabaab which has besieged governments in Mogadishu.

Speaking during a meeting with the speaker of the Lower House and House Standing Committees, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said the assembly was the most critical institution in the development of Somalia.

Mr. Hassan Sheikh said the highest levels of cooperation and coordination among multi-government agencies will relinquish the financial muscle of the group.

The President said his government will provide the necessary tools to detect and disrupt patterns of financing associated with Al Qaeda and global terrorist networks.

The Somali cabinet through the leadership of the head of state has promised to strengthening regulations on anti-terrorism financing and money laundering to degrade the militants.

Somalia passed the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Terrorism Financing (AMLCF) law in 2016 but analysts say the law is not watertight enough to cut off terrorism financing.

Somalia’s militant Islamist group al-Shabab spent $24m (£18m) in 2021 on purchasing weapons, according to a report by a Mogadishu-based research group, the Hiraal Institute.

The report,  “Al-Shabaab Weapons”, further alleges that al-Shabab, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, has an annual revenue collection of about $180m.

Previous UN reports have indicated that the group generates millions of dollars through the extortion of businesses and illicit taxes on vehicles, livestock and commercial and residential buildings in the country.

The government said last month it has frozen several bank accounts operated by the militant group but did not indicate where the accounts were located.

Commercial banks are required to notify the Financial Reporting Centre of any transactions of over $10,000.

However, a recent UN Panel of Experts report said Al-Shabaab manages to circumvent this mechanism but transferring funds in small tranches of a maximum of $9,500 thus evading the threshold for reporting.

The strengthening of institutions like the Financial Reporting Center (FRC) in Somalia which regulates and is set to report on any suspicious money circulating will play a significant role in degrading the insurgents, the government believes.

The centre was established through the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act, 2016 to operate as a National Central Agency that is responsible for the receipt, analysis and appropriate dissemination of all information relating to money-laundering and terrorism financing.

Somalia is currently conducting operations against the militants in parts of central and southern Somalia where the Somali National Army declared successful battles leading to the liberation of strategic villages and towns.

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Puntland State Leader Expected To Arrive In Mogadishu Today

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Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni is scheduled to travel to Mogadishu.

According to reliable sources Deni has received an invitation from the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Deni’s trip came after he criticized the policy of President Hassan Sheikh at the Thursday meeting of the Puntland Cabinet of Ministers. He also slammed Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre.

Deni instructed his cabinet that there will be no cooperation with the federal government, since he is in place with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

This conflict is based on the appointment of officers who will lead the security of the federal government forces from Puntland, and Deni argues that those who recommend him should be taken, instead of the federal government choosing whoever it wants from Puntland.

It is not clear what President Deni is getting from security chiefs who are not in politics.

On the other hand, President Hassan Sheikh has recently missed a trip to Bosaso, a military base that the United Arab Emirates is advancing, and it is not clear whether the delay is related to the conflict between the two sides.

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Media Training on Reporting on Humanitarian Issues and Climate Change.

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Mogadishu, 19 November- Over 30 Somali Journalists and some selected Editors have begun a three-day training on Humanitarian and Climate Change reporting in Mogadishu today. Somali Independent Media Houses Association (SIMHA) organized the Media Training.

The training aims to equip the Journalists and the Editors with skills and knowledge on how best to report on the unfolding humanitarian crisis and the impact of Climate Change in Somalia.

Speaking at the training kick-off in Mogadishu, SIMHA’s Chairman Hassan Ali Geesey said the training would help the Journalist identify and report on Humanitarian stories.

“The media is the vehicle that delivers crucial information to the public. We feel there is a need to train the Journalists and Editors on how to report on the humanitarian crisis the country is witnessing now. It is timely, and we hope this will help shape the opinion and views of Somali people and their international supporters through accurate reporting,” said SIMHA Chairman.

Hassan Ali Geesey, Somali Independent Media Houses organization (SIMHA)

 The media training which is planned to be held in major cities in the regional states in the coming weeks is supported by UNSOM and the office of the Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs, Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame.

 “Without the support of UNSOM and the Office of the Special Envoy, it would not have been possible to implement this training”, Added Mr Hassan Geesay.

While officially opening the training, the Special Envoy on Humanitarian Affairs, Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, emphasized on the media’s role in positively highlighting the challenges caused by Climate Change and its impact.

“As Journalists and Editor, today you can support your people suffering from the continuous impact of climate-induced tragedies. You need to take the front seat in highlighting the challenges our people are facing daily, “ said the special envoy.

Abdirahman Abdishakur, Presidential special envoy on drought and humanitarian affairs

“You are the vehicle we need to deliver the message, and without you, we will never know the extent of the damage and how much help we need”, added the special envoy. The envoy also warned the Journalists against fake news and its terrible impact.

“As Journalists, you must always strive to get the truth. The responsibility of informing the public by offering accurate information rests on your shoulders. The target is to train over 200. Journalists in the five regional states” said the special envoy.

The group of editors and Journalists who were lucky to have been selected for the training welcomed the opportunity.

“I hope I will have a clear understanding of how to report on Humanitarian issues and the impact of Climate change after the training. I am passionate about Humanitarian affairs and keen to play my role as a Journalist,” said Shukri Mohamed Abdi, a reporter at Bilan Media

Shukri Mohamed Abdi, Reporter at Bilan Media

 Somalia is currently facing the worst humanitarian crisis following failed rainy seasons. More than 50% of the population needs food aid as the country also inches closer to the declaration of famine.

With this critical step of training media managers and Journalists, the media will have an opportunity to accurately and objectively report on the situation by highlighting the voices of those who are suffering from the impact of the climate-induced tragedies.

Journalist and editors in session during the training on Humanitarian and Climate Change Reporting

 

END

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