Somalia minister says country achieved major economic, security gains in 2019
Somalia said on Thursday the government made key gains on economic, security and political fronts that have laid sufficient groundwork that is critical to drive the country forward in 2020. Mohamed Abdi Hayir, information, culture and tourism minister, said the economy grew by 3.8 percent in 2019 and expects to reap economic benefits due to improved governance in 2020. Hayir said the government is spending the biggest chunk of its budget on improving the welfare of the security forces and investing in education and health. "We achieved a lot in 2019, however, we will reap the benefits of governance in 2020 which will be the year of victory. All our current efforts will bear fruits for the Somali people and it will be visible and felt by the public in 2020," Hayir said in a statement to mark the end of 2029. He said the Horn of African nation adheres to the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on sound financial regulations and management, and are course to qualifying for debt relief, which is critical to unlocking the country's economic potential. "We hope by the end of February, Somalia will qualify for debt relief and attract foreign direct investment to spur development and Somalia regains its beauty, improve the lives of our people, create jobs for youth and improve security," Hayir said. The minister who urged the public to continue supporting the government said Somali security forces proved their ability to capture and hold territory from al-Shabab group, citing the capture from militants in key areas of Bariire, Sabiid, El-Saliini and Awdheegle, all in Lower Shabelle region. He said the Somali security forces are growing in confidence and demonstrated the ability to take over the security responsibilities from AMISOM. "I wish to tell the world that Somalia's recovery, especially the restoration of peace and security in Somalia and the Horn of Africa region is close to being achieved," said Hayir. He lauded international partners such as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the UN and other international allies for supporting Somalia's stabilization and recovery efforts in 2019. "I would say that the world, and in particular the African countries that dispatched their soldiers to Somalia, helped the growth of governance in Somalia. They have taken part in the security, economic, social, political revival of our country and supported the salvation of our people, institutionalization and putting governance structures in place in our country and protecting them," Hayir said. He paid tribute to AMISOM troop and police-contributing countries for the sacrifice they have made to restore peace in Somalia.