In almost all countries of the world, import and export trade is controlled by their governments with restrictions and procedures to meet the satisfactory trade limitations that make their trade be beneficial to all parties involved. To meet that objective, they apply their own import trade limitations, which can protect each of the different levels of indigenous businesses; which can ensure the price affordability of all classes; which can secure the sufficiency, the safety and the quality of all commonly consumed imported commodities. Conversely in Somaliland, the previous governments and the present one deliberately put aside and failed at least to endorse the trade limiting restrictions, especially the import trade; which is a procedure restricting the importers to sell only to wholesalers not farther, the wholesalers to sell only to retailers not farther, and the retailers to sell directly to the public or consumers.
If these trade limitations be introduced, it could protect the existence and growth of the lower levels of the businesses (wholesalers, upper retailers and lower retailers); it could ensure consumers’ food security; and could help control the demand-pull and cost-push transactions to avoid inflation. The absence of the government’s role and responsibilities to implement the required trade restrictions imposed by the country’s laws, gave the few bulk importers of the commonly consumed commodities a limitless freedom that enabled them to be the only player to occupy all the three selling limitation levels of the bulk order imported commodities; leaving the middle and lower businesses of this country be at the mercy of the few giant trade companies.
These few giant lifeblood suckers moved forward with their limitless freedom and spearheaded the US dollar price based purchasing system existing in Somaliland; as they ignored the local currency and refused to sell their commodities with SL. Shillings; compelling the smaller businesses to buy their imported commodities with US dollar only. This again hampered the growth and progress of the medium and smaller businesses whose merchandize was related to the imported food commodities. This unwelcome action in the rule of monitory laws of any country in the world including Somaliland, and an unacceptable crime in where there is government with a rule of law; introduced by the few giant importers led the country in to a situation that all businesses from top to bottom value their goods and services in US dollar.
But the wonderful thing to refer is that from the time these major importers began this micro economically, socioeconomically and financially destructive purchasing system up to now; all Somaliland previous governments and this current one did not take actions, did not impose any measures, did not publicly show the least response about the financial negative impacts of this crime, and even did not officially mention this case as one of the major causes of the unsolvable current hyperinflation and local currency value lose.
Likewise, every country in the world, it is the government which is responsible to control the prices of all the imported food commodities, medicines, and any other goods essential for its people. In Somaliland, it is obvious that we import almost 99% of the foodstuff, medicines, building materials, all other essential goods and luxury needs. Again conversely, Somaliland governments were not aware as part of their responsibility, and failed to control the prices of the imported commonly consumed commodities; especially food, medicines, petroleum items and all goods essential for the consumption of the people; they failed to set the parameters of food commodities prices that are satisfactory and affordable to all classes of the citizens.
According to world food commodities prices, the market prices of these imported commodities are the highest prices in the world, for Somaliland — one of the poorest countries with the lowest GDP per capita in 2017. It is true that our governments’ failures to implement the above mentioned social services for their citizens, gave the bulk businessmen again a freedom to sell their goods whatever price they can earn; that they can easily gain a profit ranging from 200% up to 400% according to a data received from inside informers. This oppressive and heart breaking trade system upon our poor people sucks the lifeblood out of all lower and middle class people and transfers their small having to the few rich companies and commercial giants.
Similarly, every country in the world, its government is responsible to protect and control the quality and Safety Standards of all Foodstuff imported to its people’s consumption; and set out the overall legal responsibilities of the importers, making them avoid to import commodities unsafe or unsuitable for people to eat, relating to their health well-being and hygiene. Again conversely, Somaliland previous governments and the present one failed to make the needed quality control system on the imported food commodities, refreshments, medicines, and other essential items used for human consumption.
The combination of the above mentioned four problems related to our trade transactions mentioned in this article is internationally known as food security protection of a nation or country. And one of the key features of a social development of a state is that when the food security of its people is granted and ensured. This is when all the people or all citizens of a country, at all times, have access to affordable in price, sufficient, safe and reliable food to meet their dietary needs. The Constitution of this country places the responsibility of this issue on the government. But this food security issue does not exist in the minds of those who ruled this country after late president M. I. Egal who succeeded to apply the import trade limitations and the price control of the food commodities; then ensured that its selling stages and the affordability of its prices could be progressively expanded to all levels. Though every effort of nation building was at its initial stage and the resources available at that time were very limited, it is marked as the period of the lowest food commodity prices ever Somaliland people have experienced.
The failure of the government to endorse the trade limitation procedure; its failure to make the local currency as the only acceptable purchasing currency and avoid its value go down in the market; its failure to intervene and control the prices of food, medicines, petroleum and other essential commodities; its failure to protect the health well being of its people by controlling the safety standards of imported food commodities; its failure to adjust the undesired market results; caused the people to experience some rarely seen or unknown diseases rapidly increasing among the common people, possibly because of so many unsafe food commodities in the markets; and locked the majority population at the bottom into a permanent poverty trap.
The existence of these trade related problems together with the government’s denial are all favouring to the few rich importers; while the effects and hardships of the unlimited higher prices, the unhealthy food consumption, the local currency depreciation, and inflation hit the common people or lower and middle classes; dividing them in to some with relative poverty, having insufficient income for their monthly essential needs, and some with absolute poverty, having nothing to spend the necessities of their life such as food, medicine, rent and clothing.
The last and most important truth to share with all concerned is that the main cause of all these government failures which we mentioned above is the government’s trade policy controlled by a group of few rich people closely related with the government simply because they are rich, or their similar economic hegemony positions; in another words all these failures are the negative impacts resulted from “the economic hegemony practices in which very few rich groups have the decisive influence over the government’s functions of the country’s trade, monetary and political systems”
Adam Ali Younis