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Politicizing Puntland’s Share in Development Projects: Checkpoints in Mogadishu and Deni’s New Economic Council.

Puntland’s President, Saed Abdullahi Deni, has announced the establishment of the Puntland Economic Development Council. This newly formed council has been described by the Minister of Planning Mohamed S. Faroole, as a pivotal entity responsible for overseeing international donations and projects within the region. Its overarching objective is to foster a symbiotic relationship between Puntland’s internal and external economic growth efforts. This encompasses a wide spectrum of activities, ranging from the formulation of development policies and strategic investments, including bilateral initiatives in collaboration with the World Bank, to direct support from humanitarian agencies. The council’s mandate extends to encompass various facets of project management, coordination, and vigilant monitoring.

Speaking on this significant development, Finance Minister Dhaban’ad underscored the Federal Government’s utilization of development projects as political leverage, often deploying them to achieve specific political objectives, such as securing grants and allocating resources for targeted development projects.

In response, Minister of Finance Mohamed Dhaban’ad emphasized Puntland’s commitment to adopt a robust framework for future projects. These measures entail the implementation of rigorous procurement procedures, judicious taxation practices, and meticulous auditing protocols. Notably, the Puntland bank will assume a direct role in handling project funds, thereby ensuring a heightened level of transparency and effective coordination throughout the project lifecycle. Minister Dhaban’ad further voiced concerns about the allocation of funds by the federal government to undisclosed and non-existent non-governmental organizations (NGOs), raising questions about the integrity of resource allocation processes.

Puntland has endured the adverse ramifications of President Farmajo’s politicization of development projects during his tenure, precipitating a deterioration in collaboration between Puntland and the Federal Government. Despite President Deni’s instrumental contribution to facilitating Hassan Sheikh’s ascension to power, the region is currently grappling with the ramifications of the politicization of over 20 stalled development projects. These projects encompass a wide array of critical undertakings, including prominent endeavors like Education Cannot Wait (ECW), a global fund established by the United Nations to address educational needs during emergencies, as well as the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a collaborative initiative coordinated by the European Union.

Moreover, the Barwako project formerly referred to as Biyole which centers on bolstering water resources for agro-pastoral productivity and resilience, remains steadfast. This initiative, which once provided employment opportunities aound 100 individuals in Puntland, endures due to alleged conditions stipulated by the Puntland authorities for the project’s continuation.

The strained relationship between Puntland and the Federal Government has resulted in the severance of ties, prohibiting Puntland officials from engaging with counterparts in Mogadishu or participating in collaborative efforts with Federal Ministries. In a recent engagement with Puntland MPs, President Hassan Sheikh conveyed his aspiration to redress the disagreements through dialogue, as corroborated by credible sources familiar with the proceedings. The trajectory of this dialogue and its potential impact on the region’s stability and development remain subjects of keen observation and scrutiny.

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