Left: Minister of Health Ali Abdullahi Warsame and President Abdirahman Farole at Bosaso Medical College [30-12-2012]
In a desperate attempt to keep his government afloat amid strong opposition to the planned one-year extension of his term, the President of Puntland State of Somalia, Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud (Farole), imposited of taxes on all essential humanitarian services. Instead of the government paying or contributing to the basic services for the poor, as should be the case, Farole has levied taxes on activities meant to support the poor.
HORSEED contacted the affected aid agencies and government ministries in Puntland. Although no one was willing to be officially quoted, HORSEED has learned that Ministries of Education and Health, and the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) have been ordered to levy 5-15% taxes on humanitarian donated funds that has been supported by the EU, UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, WFP, Save the Children and World Vision.
In the case of Ministry of Health and SRCS the taxed funds include essential life saving activities such as operating cost for poor pregnant mothers requiring complicated obstetric care and essential child health services such as nutrition for malnourished children.
Senior officials in SRCS could not believe what the Government was asking to be taxed and said they have never encountered such levy in their entire operation in Somalia. The Ministry of Education taxed money includes meagre scholarships for hundreds of disadvantaged girls to attend school.
The Ministry of Education is reported to have paid $78,000 donated by aid agencies to the Ministry of Finance in November 2012 while the Ministry of Health has paid over $120,000 in the last quarter of 2012.
One senior official called the confiscation of aid for the poor “ highly immoral and ignorant” action by the President.
Others have already drawn the parallels of this scandal with Al-shabab’s demand for aid agencies to pay such taxes in Southern and Central Somalia.
With Puntland civil servants and soldiers not paid in the last four months of 2012, it is yet unclear where the taxes on humanitarian services along with other revenues are going. Under the constitution, which Farole was sworn in, the government’s term expires on the 8th of January 2013.