By: Yusuf M Hasan
ERIGAVO (Somalilandsun) – The 500 Somali shillings is no longer a legal tender in Erigavo and the entire Sanaag region.
In a move whose reason is not yet certain traders in the region have for the last week refused to accept the 500 Somali Gimbar note which has been a legal tender since the Siad Barre era a move that has created uncertainty among citizens who claim that they have incurred losses in the millions from their cache of the notes.
According to Khan Abdi Darwish a local Erigavo shopkeeper, the sudden decision has left him with an over 18,000,000 Somali shillings lose which is the total of the 500shs in his safe at the Khan Darwish shop in Geed Marar Street Erigavo town.
While the 18,000,000 Gimbar loss incurred by trader Darwish may appear colossal the figure is also less for many citizens while big trading concerns like the local Khat supplier may loss in 100s of millions, "this is peanuts for my company which handles 100s of millions on a daily basis in a region where a dollar is exchanged at 21,000 Somali shs and 3,000 Somaliland shillings" says Ms Khalid a Khat trader
The conundrum of refusal to transact in the 500 Gimbar note is worrisome because it has been the most stable and acceptable in the region that is slowly getting to utilize the Somaliland shilling since the 1000 Gimbar note has in the past been the issue.
In the past we have lost a lot a large chunk of our meager working capital after one or the other of the various 1000 Gimbar notes wastermed rejected legal tenders. This explains trader Darwish emanated from the plethora of the notes minted by various governments and warlords in Somalia at one time or another during the 22 years of anarchy in that country.
Just as in the past some unscrupulous big merchants are reaping big profits from the rejected 500 notes that they buy at half its price and take to Garowe in Puntland where it is still in use informs Darwish who says that the current trend of buying the rejected notes at half or less of its value was the norm when any of the diverse 1000 notes was the subject.
An employee of the Somaliland Central Bank, Sanaag regional branch in Erigavo informed that the bank which does not handle the Somali Gimbar notes has no control over its rejection or acceptance.
"We only handle Somaliland currency thus have no control of either the rate of exchange or acceptance of the many Gimbar notes" said the regional central banker who requested anonymity
While the announced rejection of one Gimbar note or another is the itching and loss making scam of the day in Sanaag the major scheme of big pocket business people in Erigavo revolves around collecting all the Sanaag regional public service and armed forces monthly paycheck in Somaliland currency from the local central bank branch in Erigavo and exchange to Gimbar which is the actual currency paid.
Though past fears were that the introduction of the Somaliland currency might bring the economy down through the release of fake notes residents are hopeful that the success and boldness of the current administration of President Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo shall intervene in Sanaag just as it did in Toghdeer region