As part of the regular visits of the President of Puntland to examine how governmental institutions are functioning, Dr. Gaas visited the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on 7 July 2014. The president held meetings with the Minister of Finance to discuss domestic financial issues, including fiscal management, application of strict financial integrity and increasing revenues to address national needs.
During his tour at the Ministry, the president stopped at the office responsible for centre to local funds transfers to local governments via the Local Development Fund (LDF). This fund is implemented as part of UNCDF’s contribution to the joint programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery in Somalia.
The support provided by UNCDF consists of two experts on fiscal decentralization and fiscal transfers who assist in the management of the central government’s contribution to the five local governments in Puntland (Garowe, Gardo, Bossaso, Bayla, Eyl and Jeriban districts). UNCDF also provides logistic and technical support to the office of the Accountant General and the Auditor General to strengthen their roles in the fiscal transfer, and facilitate LDF payments according to the LDF and national financial standards.
The president heard briefings on the role of the Ministry of Finance in the implementation of the LDF programme in Puntland. These included the number of projects implemented, locations, amount of funds transferred by the MOF and the JPLG/UNCDF and the kind of support that UNCDF provides.
This support has significantly enhanced the MOF’s capacity to transfer funds to the local government and oversee financial transfers as part of a pilot fiscal decentralization process that will be implemented in Puntland upon the endorsement of the Decentralization Policy, which UNCDF has helped to develop.
In the last two years (2012-13), the MOF allocated US$ 120,000 for local governments as part of its 10% contribution in the LDF. In 2014, under the tenure of Dr Gaas, the Puntland Ministry of Finance allocated US$ 250,000 to 8 Local Governments as part of government’s contribution in the LDF Programme. The total LDF budget for Puntland for 2014 is about US$ 2 million.
The president acknowledged the importance of the LDF programme and commended UNCDF’s institutional support to the ministry.
He urged the staff responsible for this programme to manage this programme with integrity and in an effective way, stressing that such programmes could be an instrument to measure the strong commitment of the Government of Puntland and the kind of partnership that the government wants with the donors.
The president underlined his government’s commitment to undertake institutional reform based on firm accountability and integrity, reflecting the promises already made to the public. The president also discussed the government’s plan and efforts to start democratization and the establishment of elected local governments that are held accountable in Puntland.
The president also emphasized his interest in the expansion of the LDF, so that more districts could join the programme gradually and in parallel with the increased national budget allocation to local governments.
Dr Gaas is the fifth elected president of Puntland and took office in January 2014.