GOV’T PLEADS GUILTY

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn told parliamentarians on Thursday that the recent political unrest and the associated violence that have erupted across parts of the Oromia Regional State and the Kimant Community of the North Gondar Zone, Amhara Regional State occurred due to the lack of rapid response from the government for the question raised by the people.

Hailemariam reiterated what he told the house in the same session a few months ago. But this time, the PM has made swift changes as to who is responsible for the conflict. Hailemarim advised his party-mates not to look further than the party itself to understand the underlying cause of the conflict. He also argued that in spite of progress that that country has made under the ruling party in past 25 years, it is no falling out favor due to severe maladministration and lack of good governance running rampant on the ground.

Responding to questions from parliamentarians on Thursday on issues of good governance and rent-seeking, the PM said: “In our belief, good governance is not just a mere propaganda or a lip service to the benefit of the people; it is rather a matter of survival. We run the risk of feeling the wrath of the people unless we bring changes to such grave concerns.”

Nevertheless, the PM also defended claims that the measures taken are barely scratching the surface of the problem saying that the aim was to bring about a comprehensive change to the situation and that measures would go deeper and wider than ever before.

For this, the PM cited the recent measure that the Addis Ababa City Administration has taken where some 600 city officials were either fired, suspended or charged with corruption. Hailemariam went further and indicated that the federal government would also take its own measures and is conducting its own investigations to completely stump out maladministration.

“During the past 25 years and particularly in the past 12 years, our people both at the rural and urban areas have been on-board with the promising trend the country has been on. No one could dispute that. However, because of the problem that grew within us and because of our failure to address the growing public concerns from time to time, we have managed to be sources of public grievance,” he told to parliamentarians.

“The people are raising questions of good governance and jobs, which are expected questions as far as a demanding society is emerging,” Hailemariam continued to argue adding that the role of the anti-peace elements in the violence is still not something that one can discount. “These forces would always try and divert real questions and try to use it to their own political advantage,” the PM told the MPs while appreciating what he said was the role of the peace-loving community in downplaying the agenda of these groups.

He added that lack of options for the employment for the youth and women in the region also has played its own role to the problem and the government shall work to address this issue with greater emphasis.

“The government along with the people has now controlled the situation in Oromia. But the absence of instability in other areas does not mean that there is no problem in those areas as well; the only difference is that in other parts people has not decided to express their grievance via violence but maladministration and lack of good governance is widespread in the nation. Hence we have to work to attain good governance at all levels in the government ladder,” he remarked.

The Prime Minister said addressing woes of the public is a key issue to strengthen peace in the country and sustain the development. In that, he expressed regret over the loss of lives and property during the violence in some parts of Oromia.
In addition to the political instability, the performance of his government over the past six months was another focus for the PM on Thursday.

According to Hailemariam, construction, service and manufacturing sectors have witnessed growth during the past six months. Investment increased by three fold compared to the same period last fiscal year, he said. He also admitted the severe impact of the drought on the country’s agricultural sector performance in the period covered by the report. The government has so far spent eight billion birr to mitigate the impact of the drought in various parts of the nation. The response from the international community is also reported to be very slow.

Eritrea

Another matter that the PM dwelt on is the condition of “no war and no peace” between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Responding a question raised by an MP “if there is any new policy direction regarding Eritrea,” the Premier said that the country has no new policy towards its arch-foe and neighbor Eritrea. “Ethiopia won’t cease working to restore the people-to-people relations between the two countries, Hailemariam said.

“However, the prevailing problem is that the Eritrean government has never refrained from instigating instability in Ethiopia and across the region,” he said.
The PM further stated that Ethiopia will respond to any attack from the Eritrean regime in accordance with international laws. Without giving further details, he indicated that Eritrea has released the Ethiopian nationals it had kidnapped recently as it clearly understood the consequence it would be forced to receive from the Ethiopian government.

Foreign trade

Some USD 1.3 billion has been generated from export trade in the first half of the fiscal year, the PM told parliamentarians. The performance was lower than the USD 1.4 billion that was secured same period last year. Hailemariam was also candid about the gloomy picture hanging over the Ethiopian export sector commenting: “The half year performance is so low that it is indicative of how difficult it will be to meet the targets set for whole year”. The global market trends especially the declining price for Ethiopia’s major export commodities is the primary reason for low performance of the export sector, according to Hailemariam. Apart from that, the PM also indicated the impact of low contribution of the manufacturing sector to cumulative disappointing result.
In contrast, the country’s imports have increased by 11 percent compared to last year’s reaching USD 8.3 billion in the six months under consideration, Hailemariam’s report indicated. This obviously results in widening the trade gap, he said. Hence, in order to ease the forex shortage, the government has utilized the foreign currency secured from money transfers, foreign direct investment (FDI), national reserve and other sources, he said.

The government collected 65 billion birr from taxes in the period in question, showing a 10.7 percent increase compared to the same period the previous year, the PM stated. In general, the country’s economy has continued its healthy growth trend, according to his assessment. But, he indicated that there is a lot to be achieved in terms of exploiting the potential for taxation.

The ailing agriculture

The PM, who underscored the need to modernize the agriculture sector, also admitted that the current El Niño phenomenon is likely to affects the overall agricultural productivity of the country.

However, the country is working to minimize its impact and compensate for the decline in crop production through expanding the existing farmlands, distributing select seeds and fertilizers as well as by undertaking watershed management, Hailemariam said.

Industry

The efforts being made to expand small and medium industries in urban areas will be strengthened to address unemployment and generate more income from the sector, according to the PM.

The construction of various industrial parks is underway across the country, he said, citing the Bole Lemi phase one project, which has already gone operational, and the Hawassa Industrial Park, as a case in point. Preparations have also been completed to commence the construction of agro-processing industrial parks in four regional states, he said.

Source: ethiopian reporter

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