Somalia: Public Property Disposals Since 2012

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According to the Financial Governance Committee full inventory of the Federal Government property and public property sold or leased since 2012 is a top priority of the Federal Government of Somalia, writes Liban Ahmad 
 Between 2012 and 2017 the Federal Government of Somalia under President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud sold government land and properties to businesses in Mogadishu. Several factors made it easier for President Mohamud to authorise the sale and leasing  of public properties and land : 1- the non-transitional status of the government; 2- President Mohamud’s association with Mogadishu, based on post-1991 re-branding of cities and towns as clan strongholds, and 3- the preparation for 2017 enhanced  elections.  The second and third factors conspired against him: he lost the 2017 election to President Mohamed  Abdullahi Mohamed ( Farmajo), who campaigned on anti-corruption ticket.
If President Farmaajo forgets his reform pledge to the Somali people, the Somali Financial Governance Committee has not forgotten. In a report published in May 2018 and endorsed by The World Bank, EU, and the IMF, one of  Financial Governance priorities in 2019  for the government is :  ” [to] compile a full inventory of Federal Government property and begin to review all public property leasing and disposals since 2012.” 2012 was the year Somalia ended the tenure of Transitional Federal Government to have a permanent government.
The Ministry of Finance is working hard to make 2019 the year Somalia will secure debt relief. Progress towards this goal will be measured against the ten indicators the Financial Governance Committee uses to assess the state of financial governance in Somalia.
With a Parliament and an Upper House, the Federal Government has a mandate wider in scope than its predecessor had. It has got powers to investigate land sold and leased to Mogadishu businesses. Before 1991 when a military government sold excess property or land it had published details in the Official Bulletin. That is why people are now able to judge whether decisions were based on nepotism or corruption.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud established a political party and is planning to contest in  2021 one person, one vote elections planned to take  place in Somalia. Investigation to be launched by the Federal Government into land disposal and property sale and leasing decisions by its predecessor government might  be described as a politically motivated  plot  against President Hassan Sh. Mohamud. Failure to make progress towards one of the financial governance milestones will adversely affect the work of Dr Abdiraham Beyle, the Minister of Finance, to introduce fiscal federalism and help Somalia gain debt relief.    If the Federal Government of Somalia cannot investigate financial irregularities of the government it succeeded, people will begin to ask questions about its ability to “auction 206 oil blocks” in Southern Somalia.
If the President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud allegedly used the government office to  enrich his relatives and supporters, the incumbent government has the powers and mandate to publish a full report on public properties leased and sold between 2012 and 2017.
In October 2016 a Somali website published details on government land and that the former Mayor of Mogadishu, Yusuf Jimale,  acted on instructions from the President Mohamud to sell  government land. Investigation may force President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to step back from his campaigns ahead 2021 elections and will fragment the alliance he formed with close associates of his predecessor, President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed , who in 2016  campaigned on the promise that he would reverse the decision to sell or lease public properties and land during President Mohamud’s term in office.
Liban Ahmad
libahm@gmail.com

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