A minister in the semi-autonomous state in northeastern Somalia has opposed a restriction imposed on the importation of khat, a mild stimulating herb popularly chewed in Somalia.
Mr Hassan Farah Jama, who is the minister for Commerce in Puntland, was reacting to a Wednesday decree issued by the state’s minister for Airports and Air Transport, ordering the airplanes bringing khat into the country to limit their flights to 20 days in each month.
The move will stop the planes from making their daily deliveries from Ethiopia and Kenya into the region.
According to the minister for Airports and Air Transport, khat will be delivered by land transporters in the remaining 10 days of each month.
However, Mr Jama said such a move would harm the free trade constitutionally embraced by the Puntland.
“I do not think this has been a well thought move, “said Mr Jama. “It is going to jeopardise the free trade that is encouraged by our government,” he added.
According to some sources in Puntland, the matter has been passed on to the state’s Vice-President, Mr Abdisamad Ali Shire, who is expected to call a meeting.
Khat trade in Somalia is estimated to be worth over $1 million per day and generates income for thousands of families.
By ABDULKADIR KHALIF in Mogadishu
Posted Thursday, December 2 2010 at 19:29