by Abdullahi Warfa
Friday, February 13, 2015
Hussein Abdi Halane (Right), the outgoing finance minister of Somalia
The aim of this piece is to shed light on the ministry of finance and its outgoing boss Honourable, Hussein Abdi Halane. It is fact that the collapse of the central government not only did lead to civil war but also it terribly destroyed all functioning institutions including finance ministry. The continuation of the anarchy and chaos in Somalia and without the hope of government to provide basic services, people found that there is no other alternative but to rely on themselves where they became self -serving(muruq maal) or self dependent (isku tiirsan). Somalia had experienced a series of transitional governments but the chaos and severe human rights violations remained at large. However, today, Somalia has an approved provisional constitution, a functioning parliament that has assumed powers. In the new constitution great power is also devolved from the centre to regional governments.
The ministry of finance across transitional governments in Somalia lacked a clear strategy to handle various macro economic and structural reforms. The ministry staff used traditional methods where teams put in a lot of time to get the job done. These practises led many staff to end up in fulfilling non -financial functions and job roles became increasingly undefined inviting earlier leaves from the finance building. Also, Interventions from the leaders in the financial matters were at stake, all of these resulted in inconsistent and unreliable financial practices in the country. In this economic crisis and financial mess, Hussein Halane had come to occupy the finance portfolio as its minister.
In President Sheikh Sharif's tenure, Hussein Halane was selected to lead the finance ministry. Before joining the finance portfolio as minister, Halane held a number of executive positions in international organizations including as president of save children in East Africa where he presided over quality funding related initiatives aimed at empowering the suffering children of Horn of Africa.
In the midst of economic, political instability and being finance minister, Halane developed strategies to address key government priorities in the finance sector. His target in the short run was to develop a new financial management, legal framework, new more streamlined financial approvals and restructuring the way the ministry of finance used to function. In the long run, the man had great ideas to fulfil such as microeconomic stability, structural adjustment programs, the comprehensive development framework and good governance of finance matters.
In fact, within the short term range, prudent budget policy generally seen as having been instrumental in the economic recovery and Halane immediately led several significant changes to the composition of the expenditure where he cut public expenditure as he significantly put emphasise on strengthening the revenue side of the budget.
It is worth to note that this was the first time that the ministry of finance was able to provide a clear picture of the budget: 1) establishing the levels of resources available for the budget, 2) establishing government priorities, 3) pre-budget negotiations with the parliament, 4) finalization of the budget and preparing detailed budget proposals for implementation.
Also it is notable that the ministry of finance has established ceiling for resources available for ministries. The first point of reference is the strategic work plan of each ministry on the basis of the indicative budget ceiling.
The second term as minister of finance under Hassan sheikh’s presidency, Halane had changed his tone, this time the focus was not only on the budget policy but the concentration has been on formulating sound economic policies, maximise revenue mobilization, ensuring efficient allocation and accountability for public resources so as to achieve the most rapid and sustainable economic growth and development. Recently, Halane introduced the practice of publishing financial allocations as a symbol for transparency and accountability.
Halane, during his career both as international employee and as Minister of finance for Somalia Government, has a good reputation both in managerial level and technical capacity. Indeed, he was instrumental in helping Somalia. The ongoing transformation agenda of Halane will continue to deliver results for Somalia and Somalis.
The former President Jon Kennedy once said “Do not pay for easy lives rather pray to be stronger men”.