Inflation sparks protest in Puntland capital

At least five people were injured when security forces opened fire on protesters demonstrating over crippling inflation rates linked to an influx of fake currency in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, local sources said.
 
Nearly 3,000 people, angry at soaring prices and exchange rates, converged on the Puntland presidential compound in the regional capital, Garowe, Ahmed Abdisalam, of the Daily Puntland Post newspaper, said on 26 July.
 
"Unmanageable inflation was the main reason for the demonstration," he said. “There has been a flood of fake Somali currency into the region since the beginning of June, which has caused the inflation rates.”
 
Local traders said the shilling reached an all-time low against the dollar this week. On 26 July, the Somali shilling was exchanged in markets across Puntland at 20,000 to US$1. In early June, the rate was 18,000. "You buy something now and tomorrow it has doubled," said Abdisalam.
 
Ali Haji Said, a businessman in Bossaso, the region's commercial capital, said many traders had started to quote prices in dollars. He said inflation rates may leave many people out of business, adding: "They simply cannot keep up with it."
 
Nageye Farah Isse, a trader in Garowe, said a 50kg bag of sugar was now selling for 600,000 shillings ($30), compared with 400,000 ($20) in June. The price of a 50kg bag of rice has risen from 290,000 to 480,000 shillings, while a carton of cooking oil has gone up from 255,000 to 420,000 shillings.
 
The demonstrators urged the administration to take action over the fake currency, which is reportedly being printed inside Puntland. "Many residents blame the Puntland government, which they accuse of complicity in the whole thing," said Abdisalam.
 
Abdirahman Bankah, the Puntland Minister of Information, denied that members of the administration were involved and termed the accusations “anti-government propaganda”.
 
"There is no member of this administration involved in this," he told IRIN.
He said the administration had listened to the views of the protesters and would take action. "We will do all we can to stop the fake currency coming into the region.”

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