Mogadishu (UM) – The 2018 budget presented yesterday to Parliament by Dr. Beileh, the Minister of Finance, has a few surprises. For the first time since the budget, there is spending allocated for public services, namely health and education. The budget was positively presented to Parliament which signifies the Ministry of Finance’s optimism in collecting taxes for the next fiscal year to support public expenditure and investment.
The vast majority of the spending will still go on security but the key challenge will be the security sector payroll reform which requires all personnel be paid directly into an account. At Present, only the Police are paid directly in this way. If the Ministry of Finance succeeds in this policy priority, it will be able to resolve the issue of ghost soldiers and, with the savings, recruit real soldiers to improve national security.The second largest spend will be on the running of the Government, which includes civil service wages and running costs. Again, there are challenges with ghost workers, retiring elderly staff with dignity and recruiting new staff based on merit to improve public administration and civil service performance.
The budget will now be considered by Parliament and the issue of MP’s paying taxes on their income may proof to be an obstacle. This was discussed in a Parliamentary session following the budget discussions with some MP’s privately arguing that they should be exempt.
However, there is a legal and moral duty for them to pay as Ummadda Media made clear in the past and MP’s knows this only too well. The most well paid representatives of the people cannot live of public funds and refuse to put something back with a vote in the House of the People (Parliament). The taxes from MP’s income will be around half a million dollars annually but it will send a clear signal to the rest of the tax paying community, both individuals and businesses, that the Government is serious about financing Somalia’s future.