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On Somalia, ICP Asked UN of Abass Siraji, SG's Spox Called It Assassination, Now "Tragic"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 11 – After Somali minister Abass Abdullahi Sheikh Siraj was shot and killed by the bodyguards of the country's Auditor-General, apparently in a case of mistaken identity, Inner City Press asked the spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric, if Guterres or the UN had any comment. Dujarric said it seemed to be an assassination. On May 11, Inner City Press asked again, from the transcript: Inner City Press: I saw that the Secretary-General at the Somali conference describe the death as Abass Siraji as tragic and unfortunate. I asked about it at the time, and you said it seemed like an assassination.  Is that no longer the view of the UN?

Spokesman:  I'll… I think whatever the Secretary-General says overrides whatever I may say.  That's a rule.

Inner City Press: And I just want to understand, when you say that his speech to UNA-UK was off the cuff, it seems like… I mean, it was a speech.  UN News Centre reported on it, so, like, what's the problem with releasing it?  I don’t understand.

Spokesman:  It's not that we're not releasing it.  It's just no transcript's been done.  We're going to release the video, and I think the video is as strong as the spoken word.

  From the earlier UN's transcript: Inner City Press: does the UN system have a statement on the killing of Somali Government minister Abass Siraji, a 31-year-old Government minister killed by the [inaudible]?

Spokesman Dujarric:  We obviously condemn what appears to be an assassination of this minister and send our condolences to his family and to the Government of Somalia.

Inner City Press:  Are you… Because some people are saying he was shot by mistake. And I’m wondering, does the UN have any role in security…?

Spokesman:  I have no… a role in providing his security? No.

Inner City Press:  No, no, in training, in this case, the bodyguards of the auditor general.

Spokesman:  Not that I’m aware of.

  The UN Has said nothing since, five hours later. Back on January 26 when the International Monetary Fund's deputy spokesperson William Murray took questions at the IMF's biweekly media briefing on January 26, Inner City Press asked him about Somalia and the UN, as well as Mozambique and Ghana.

 Inner City Press asked: "The UN's envoy to Somalia Michael Keating recently said in New York that the IMF is urging the government in Mogadishu to raise revenue, by means of a tax on 'ICT' or telecom/mobile phones. Is that accurate? Please explain the IMF's position."

  After the briefing, at which Inner City Press' Mozambique question was answered, an IMF spokesperson provided this on Somalia:

“Somalia has one of the lowest revenue to GDP ratios in the world. Increasing revenue mobilization, from a low tax base, is critical to Somalia’s economic and social development goals. To that end, the authorities and IMF staff reached an understanding on the need to collect higher nominal revenues in 2017 compared to those in 2016.  The ultimate goal is to progressively restore, over time, revenue to GDP to a level comparable to peer countries.
In 2017, the authorities plan to start implementing a more formal tax system, which is projected to increase tax revenues from about 1.4 percent of GDP in 2016 to 2.0 percent of GDP in 2017. A critical element of these revenue measures -- based on current law which the authorities will start implementing -- is revenue from the telecom sector, about $24.5 million in total in 2017. This is up from the negotiated tax of $5.0 million agreed for 2016. The projection comprises of about $12–14 million from taxes on corporate profits and $10–12 million from sales taxes. Additional revenue collection from the telecom sector could be achieved but will require significant improvements in revenue administration and tax collection, while improving security for telecom operators.”


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