Visiting DFID officials on Saturday met with members of the local business community among the prominent business people to discuss opportunities on investment and business development at the SBI Coca Cola Plant at Jaleelo, northeast of Hargeisa.
Apart from the opportunities on investment and business development discussed, the other issue high on the agenda that dominated the meeting was the recent closure of accounts that Somali remittance companies held with Banks in the Western World the last of which was the Merchant Bank, California, and USA.
During the meeting between the visiting DFID officials and the business community at Jaleelo, Hargeisa, each of the companies present spoke of their core businesses, their views on investment and business development and how useful and vitally important it was to them that remittances remain open and functioning.
Speaking with Farhan M Jimale of the BBC, Abdirashid M Saeed, Group CEO of Dahabshiil, summed up pertinent facts highlighted at the meeting:
“At the meeting, each of the companies present spoke of their core businesses, their views on investment and business development and how useful and vitally important it was to them that remittances remain open and functioning. The CEO of SBI, for example, spoke of how negatively it would impact on his business if remittances stopped as the bulk of his customers were among people who benefitted from the remittance flow – one way or the other.
“Other speakers, likewise, clearly pointed out how the stoppage of inflow of remittances to the country would adversely affect all their businesses whether that business was on the food and commodities market, media such as TVs and how the circulation of money among the society virtually benefited everyone.”
Responding to a question on how well the visiting delegation received the views presented, including that of Dahabshiil, the CEO said:
“In fact, the delegation acknowledged that remittances had a vital role in the overall development of the economy and reconstruction efforts, and how the flow of remittances had a monumental effect on people’s lives. They spoke of how financial regulations contributed to the remittance situation on hand and how they, on their part, had been working with the remittance companies on exploring safe corridors to safeguard business environment and how the Safer Corridor Process DFID has initiated is still striving to arrive at a workable solution.”
The CEO, Abdirashid Duale, pointed out as a process the Safer Corridor initiative would proceed at its own base as the outcome desired is to be a lasting one, saying “We did not expect that the delegation provide us with a definite timeline on the process. Their visit was a consultation mission, and as such, what we had all spoken at the meeting will go into the report and eventually reach all the appropriate UK government desks that the issue concerned.”
Mr. Duale also spoke of other ongoing international efforts, and how stopping inbound remittances to Somalis may jeopardize lives in need of immediate assistance.
“Humanitarian aid to the country, for example, will not be as effective as when the remittance apparatus was being used. In that light neither the US nor the UK assistance packages, for example, will reach beneficiaries as intended without the use of remittance networks.
“OXFAM, for instance, emphasizes in a recent report it published that the total assistance packages reaching Somalis through the UN agencies and international NGOs came nowhere near the remittance inflow from Somali businesses and individuals which outweighed the combined efforts of aid agencies by far, underlining the fact that the Somali society was interdependent and socially and economically intertwined,” the CEO said.