Early this month, the Somali Minister of Finances, Dr. Abdirahman Duale Beyle, met the media to update the public on Somalia’s economic situation, in a speech that sounded like a farewell message.
Over the past four years, the Minister has regularly briefed the public on the state of the national economy and openly responded to public concerns and questions. This enthusiasm and willingness to embrace a skeptical public weary of years of rampant corruption and nepotism is a first in Somali politics.
The state of our economy
Once again, everyone was tuned in to get a glimpse of the impact of the current political upheaval on the well-being of our national economy. Yet again, Mr. Beyle painted an optimistic view of our economy to the disappointment of “those who rejoice when something isn’t going well in Somalia’s affairs”.
He recalled how last April his appeal to the Somali people “to donate $1” – 20% of Somali donors would be equivalent to nearly 10 millions USD – and his use of a term that reflected the government’s short on cash flow were twisted by the opposition.
The minister said that under his watch, the government has maneuvered to minimize the impact of the protracted federal election turmoil on the national economy and finances. He stated he succeeded in keeping the economy afloat thanks to unexpected sources and “by the grace of God”.
All government employees have received their monthly pay on time, around 30 millions USD, even with the suspension of the budget support program, withheld by nations wanting to influence the outcome of these elections. So this positive note is reassuring for our service men and women who make sure the smooth delivery of day-to-day services like banking or security.
As an astute economist widely respected in world finances, Dr. Beyle managed to establish a strong standalone financial system in a politically volatile Somalia.
Dr. Beyle thanked the public for their support, the taxpayers for paying their taxes, the President for entrusting him with this task and his colleagues for working in coordination with his department.
Beyle’s farewell message to politicians and the public
Dr. Beyle recalled the chaos that prevailed in the state’s finances before his was appointed as the minister of finances. He underlined his efforts to clean up the mess he inherited with the help obtained from other ministries and NGO’s. He finally referred to the current financial system as his legacy and the best tool to develop the country’s economy.
His message to politicians is twofold. The first is to solve the electoral problem as soon as possible to prevent the risk of collapse of the national economy. Second, he urges the next administration to keep up the momentum to avoid any disruption in the pay system.
Something few have noticed is that Dr. Beyle’s public address had a sense of a farewell. It is obvious that anything is possible after an election and there would be a renewal of the government whether the outgoing president loses his bid or Dr. Beyle fails to secure his seat. It is even possible the minister is contemplating to leave national politics if he has no opportunity of working for his country.
Beyle’s removal from any future administration
In fact, the chances our much-appreciated minister will come back whether Farmajo is re-elected or not are slim. The opposition considers him as the man who made the outgoing administration’s successes possible. This, after the looting and corruption that characterized Hassan Sheikh and Sharif Ahmed governments. Two former presidents who stand for re-election this year.
Besides, what most people don’t know is that Beyle has fallen out of favor with Farmajo since he first spoke last April about his government’s economic woes. Many did not know at the time that Western countries had ended their support for Somalia’s budget in August 2020. Regardless, for a taciturn Farmajo, Beyle’s regular public address and independent spirit is something he can do without.
Since Somalia is governed by the 4.5 clan system, the clan makeup has to reflect on the government. For that reason, Farmajo’s party is mulling to pick an individual from Dr. Beyle’s inner clan.
The strongest contender so far is Abdillahi Hashi Abib, founder and Executive Director of RAAS Institute. Dr. Abib failed to secure a seat at the federal Parliament in 2016 and is running again this year. He is currently very close to President Farmajo’s Nabad & Nolol party and Galmudug leadership and academics.
Mr. Abib, whose brother-in-law, Najib Samale, is the Deputy Chairman of the Somaliland Electoral Implementation Team, has better chance and deeper pockets than Dr. Beyle to be elected at the Lower House in the coming weeks. However, the clan representation system can still work in Dr. Beyle’s favor as Dr. Abib’s close cousin, Abdi Ismail Samatar, is already elected to the 2021 Parliament as a senator.
The most effective minister
Regardless, the finance minister has tough days ahead of him to maximize his chances of remaining in federal politics for another four years. If he fails to secure a seat at the Lower House, he will be remembered as the most effective finance minister. He restored Somalia’s good reputation with the international financial community and put an ailing economy back on track.
Beyle would retire with a good note: a well-coordinated and corruption-free pay system, the nearly 5500,000,000 USD debt have been mostly settled which open wide possibilities for Somalia development, a steadily performing national banking system, and a national budget of close to a billion dollars.
His patriotism and commitment to the public good has been consistent and genuine and he has amply demonstrated his deep loyalty not only to the President but most importantly to the Somali nation.