According to Somaliland government records examined by the Somaliland Chronicle, President Bihi’s government has inherited a sizeable debt from the previous administration of President Ahmed Mohamoud Silanyo and that officials from both administrations have publicly sought to downplay and at times outright lie about the size and gravity of the national debt.
Records show that some of the debt was incurred at the tail end of President Siilanyo’s term with a Presidential decree signed by the former President instructing the Minister of Finance at the time Ms. Samsam Abdi to include the borrowed funds in the 2018 budget. Some of the debt holders are banking and telecom giants of Dahabshiil, Telesom, and the parent company of Somcable MSG.
Publicly, however, the current Minister of Finance Development, Dr. Saad Ali Shire, and his predecessor Ms. Samsam Abdi have vehemently disputed the facts surrounding the debt President Bihi’s government has inherited.
In addition to the debt inherited from President Silanyo’s government, records show that President Bihi has borrowed millions from MSG owned by Mr. Mohamed Said Guedi.
Although records do not have enough detail to determine the nature of the debt and how it was used, it includes a massive 90,000 US dollar electric bill by the Ministry of Interior. The Minister of Interior has pleaded with the Finance Ministry for swift settlement of the bill to avoid disruption of service to the nation’s vital records systems housed at the Ministry of Interior.
Soon after taking the helm, President Bihi has re-nationalized and withdrew from multiple lucrative contracts that have been awarded by his predecessor to well-connected private parties to operate public services including managing the Berbera Oil Terminal and motor vehicle records administration. Records show that negotiated settlements with these private operators have added to the already burgeoning national debt.
It is unclear if the debt passed on by the previous government of President Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo and the subsequent borrowing of President Bihi has gone through the proper legal channels, if the newly elected parliament will look into it or how it affects the government’s ability to regulate Dahabshil and Telesom—Somaliland’s largest banks and telecom operators—while it owes them huge sums of money.
Government officials did not respond to repeated requests for clarification on the size and nature of the national debt passed on by the previous government or how much exactly President Bihi’s government has borrowed since taking office.
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