Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would to thank you all for attending this meeting, I particularly thank the UK and the IMF for organizing this important event. Special thanks to the World Bank and AfDB for the work already done toward arrears clearance.
I recognize that your collective commitment and support to Somalia has made it possible for us to reach the stage of arrears clearance and normalization of Somalia’s relationship with the International Financial Institutions.
When I joined you here in April this year to seek your endorsement in defining a fourth SMP with Upper Credit Tranche, I was encouraged by the unified message of support I received from the International Community, and your support for the reform path we have chosen as a nation.
Today we have come together again to take stock of what we have achieved since then. I am here to report that, as difficult as it has been, we have continued to build a sound track record of reforms with the current SMP 4 of UCT quality being on track; as evidenced by the IMF’s September review. All structural benchmarks were met, including over-performance on domestic revenue.
We are working very closely with IMF/WB and International partners to implement the remaining benchmarks required before the Decision Point. In that regard, my Cabinet has also approved a bottom up and widely consulted iPRSP compliant national development plan which is a critical benchmark in reaching the Decision Point under the UCT requirements.
I also had an opportunity to join a meeting chaired by the President before I left Mogadishu yesterday and also attended by the two Speakers of both Houses, who assured us that the revenue bill and all other critical legislations that are benchmarks of the current programme will be concluded in time.
Excellencies, back in April, I also briefed you on how working with the IMF and our pursuit to normalize relations with IFI’s coupled with our unwavering commitment, have steered the overall Reform Agenda of the country. Since then, we have been able to successfully initiate some of the most difficult and sometimes dangerous reforms that were previously unthinkable. Ranging from Payroll Reform for our uniformed personnel in the security sector, to the implementation of the Civil Service audit, to enhanced accountability and transparency in management of public funds, to demystifying corruption, addressing social service delivery and an all-round change in Political Culture. All these reforms, and the potentiality of success anticipated by the wider population, have brought about Unity of Purpose and a Changing Mindset.
One of the reasons why steady progress has been difficult in Somalia, has been the inability to ensure irreversible transformation. Undeniably, the reform path responds to that call as it demands higher accountability and raises the bar on leadership. This path also ensures Somalia becomes a real partner with the international community.
But for me, the most critical by-product of the reform agenda has been the bridges that have been built. As complex as the situation may have been for the past three decades, the Reform Agenda has managed to bridge divides in all sectors of our society, whether political or otherwise and we are now at a stage where our citizens recognize and see the benefits of the remarkable transformation of our institutions.
If there has ever been any unanimous agreement on an agenda and vision, shared by the Federal Government, our Federal member states, parliament, civil society, the business community, religious leaders, women, minority groups and youth; is the debt relief. Put simply, the Debt Relief agenda is a national agenda that has transcended all bipartisan politics.
The overarching reform agenda therefore is not only an instrument that is boosting Somalia’s development prospects, but also one that will, critically support political cohesion and therefore state building.
It holds the potential to cement the emerging change in mindset, which is evident from our ability to create a unified position and undertake common efforts for the common good of our people.
The second unforeseen consequence of the reform agenda has been the genuine consciousness of the hopes and aspirations of our people coming to life again. Wherever the people are; in remote villages, public rallies and public political debate is becoming very important.
70% of our population made of the youth is today more engaged in government discourse than ever before and they turnout in their thousands for public engagements, they are awake and demand to be included in decision making.
In government the expectations of every public servant have also changed, they expect their pay regularly and on time thanks to the economic reform agenda. That is what we can call irreversible change.
The most significant indicator of our citizens’ confidence is that our business community is now a key stakeholder in policy change. The Business Community is paying the highest taxes ever but in return demanding higher accountability. They are taking a keen interest in how government business is run and are equally watching closely on how their investments are utilized.
We all recognize that working with IMF and financial institutions will commit our nation to a certain political direction for many years to come; it also gives the donors and partners an opportunity to take part in Somalia’s State Formation as we rebuild the future of Somalia.
It is therefore a critical moment, and timing is of the essence. Somalia is at a cross roads and we are acutely aware of the need to continue on the pathway to debt relief within the time frames that have been agreed – slippage carries many risks, not least the risk that the current mutual political consensus around the need to achieve debt relief will take years to rebuild.
There is a moment in time when the impossible is possible and after 30 years this is the right moment for Somalia.
A delay of this reform process would aid the naysayers who were against the reform path and are supported by special interest groups and vested interests.
A delay places also at risk the hope inspired in 70% of the population, our youth who are your future partners for the next 50 years. A delay risks harming our new cooperative working relationship between the government and its international partners.
A delay would harm the narrative of Somalia that we have managed to recreate to correctly reflect the hardworking Somali people and the relentless support of the international partners.
Simply put a delay places at risk the investment made in Somalia by the International partners for many years.
To avoid the risk of delay, securing the necessary financing to clear Somalia arrears to the IFIs is critical. We are aware that both the World Bank and the African Development Bank have the necessary resources to clear Somalia’s arrears and I would therefore like to thank them for their foresight as well as their constant support to Somalia.
I will also like to thank Norway and the U.K for providing the bridge loan necessary to clear the World Bank arrears. That leaves Somalia’s arrears to the Fund.
I would like to encourage our partners to commit fresh grant contributions to the IMF arrears. And request the IMF to fasttrack the process of arrears clearance to ensure the deadline of February 2020 is met.
In conclusion, I reiterate that a delay in reaching the decision point by February next year could undermine our reform efforts, reduce public support for the challenging reforms and empower spoilers who are opposed to reforms. It would also deprive Somalia of the necessary financial resources to implement the National Development Plan in a timely manner aimed at reducing the deep poverty levels and make progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
It is, therefore, very important we normalize our relationship with the IFIs and to make that happen your commitment of support is indispensable. We therefore ask our partners here to make a pledge at this roundtable to support the IMF both through its own system but also through fresh grants to enable us conclude this by February 2020.
I thank you.