In an inclusive interview to Goobjoog, Somali Federal Auditor General Nour Farah discloses several topics that concerns Somali public and International community including the level of corruption within the federal government, Turkish company Albayrak which runs Mogadishu main port, public-land selling and backdoor contracts, property taxation and the challenges facing his office.
Goobjoog: in this year’s Transparency International report, Somalia and North Korea topped the corruption list, we would like to know why?
Auditor General: It’s sad reality, we have laws but unfortunately we simply avoid observing them, public land is sold and awarded to private individuals, contracts without any interest to the public are awarded to private companies and individuals, that is what makes Somalia descends into the list.
Goobjoog: what is the level and the magnitude of corruption in the government, give us an inside look?
Auditor General: Public property is dedicated to public and the government is there to manage and protect for the public. All kind of public property belong to the public. Siyad Bare left massive public property including land, ships, gas stations,factories now in this government there is no accountability or strong judiciary system, that is what makes corruption to spread widely.
Goobjoog: you said you office has strong cases against individuals and companies but in reality can not take any steps to deal with these case why?
Auditor General: now we have companies that were awarded to illegal contracts and agreements, to give you a name the company that runs Mogadishu port –Albayrak. This company operates in the country without any legal bases, they operate as if they work for individuals not for state. Somalia parliament has revoked their agreement with the government and when my office tried to investigate we were denied to port access.
Goobjoog: we know that Albayrak was awarded 20 years contract after it signed an agreement with federal government in 2014 and terms included 55% revenue transfer to government why you say it operates outside legal bases?
Auditor General: that agreement is null and void because federal parliament struck-down the agreement. they have no any other legal bases. Technically we do not know how revenue of the port is calculated. We asked them to see their balance sheets but they rejected our request. I ask myself whether the port is Turkish port or Somali port. They have installed their flag. Internationally no flag of other country could be installed places like port.
Goobjoog: Somalia has government and we know your office is assigned to technical job when you had had faced such incident you must have gave notice to Finance Ministry then your office with finance ministry will have held Albayrak accountable, this is the kind of normal procedure public can understand!
Auditor General: there is challenge we did give notice to ministry and to every-concerned party but the bad news is, company knows that no one can hold them accountable?
Goobjoog: do you have any other contract you office found outside legal practices?
Auditor General: there is company called Anfac( the company refer here by auditor is small local company that works with Bandir local government to collect property taxes and the correct name of the Company is Intifaac not Anfac).this company refused to cooperate with our office. Now this company collects illegal property tax and every day public come my office to protest against it. You know. The revenue of the local government is very low because contracts are given to private companies and as result the residents of Banadir region are suffering.
Goobjoog: are you saying you are powerless to stop all these things you have called them illegal?
Auditor General: I did everything in my power but the problem is, law is toothless
Goobjoog: what do you mean law is toothless
Auditor General: I mean we need to compel these companies to work along the legal requirement. Local government should have told them to stop as well as the police and that is not the case right now.
Goobjoog: do mean that government branches are not working fully to each other?
Auditor General: they work but some officials are not performing their duties
Goobjoog: what about the mismanagement of the countries financial system?
Auditor General: we wanted to simply know how much revenue that the country collects annually by introducing audit general receipt but still there is a challenge.
Interviewed by Ahmed Abdi Hadi