ethiopiantimes

June 30, 2011

Ethiopia: Anti-Terrorism Law Used to Suppress Dissent

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 7:50 am
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Ethiopian authorities have held a newspaper columnist incommunicado for at least eight days under what appears to be Ethiopia’s anti-terrorist law, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International. Reeyot Alemu, a regular contributor to the independent weekly “Feteh”, was arrested on 21 June. She is the second reporter to be picked up and held without charge in less than a week.

Authorities have not disclosed the reason for Alemu’s arrest, but a local lawyer (who requested anonymity for fear of government reprisals) told CPJ that she was transferred into preventive detention for 28 days – the minimum period for preventive detention under Ethiopia’s 2009 anti-terrorism law.

Local journalists said they believe Alemu’s arrest could be related to her columns critical of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Her 17 June column in “Feteh” criticised the EPRDF’s public fundraising methods for the Abay Dam project, and made parallels between Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, says CPJ.

Another journalist, Woubshet Taye, deputy editor of the weekly “Awramba Times”, has been held since 19 June, also at the federal investigation centre at Maekelawi Prison in Addis Ababa, says CPJ.

The sweeping anti-terrorism law criminalises any reporting authorities deem to “encourage” or “provide moral support” to groups and causes the government labels as “terrorists”. When it was enacted in 2009, IFEX members expressed concern that it would become a potent tool for suppressing political opposition and legitimate criticism of government policy.

According to CPJ, the law makes it difficult for Ethiopian reporters to cover the activities of Ethiopia’s opposition figures and rebels without risking prosecution and a 20-year prison sentence – even though Ethiopia receives praise and assistance for participating in U.S. counterterrorism measures in neighbouring Somalia.

“The irony is, the government may pride itself on its efforts to fight terrorist groups, but we [reporters] will think twice before writing about it,” said a local journalist who also requested anonymity for fear of government reprisals.

Recently, a day after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the capital, Addis Ababa, EPRDF-ruled Parliament formally designated five groups as terrorist entities: al-Qaeda, the hard-line Somali Islamist militant al-Shabaab, the Ethiopian separatists groups Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), as well as Ginbot 7, a banned political party started by U.S.-based opposition leader Berhanu Nega.

WiPC suggests that Taye’s arrest may be linked to his perceived sympathy for Ginbot 7. “Awramba Times” provides in-depth political coverage.

Human Rights Watch reports that just this March, more than 100 ethnic Oromo Ethiopians were accused of belonging to the OLF and detained without charge after mass arrests. Reports of the arrests broadcast on Voice of America’s Amharic service were jammed by the government, further raising concerns that the roundups are politically motivated.

In a related issue, the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists’ Association (EFJA) has uncovered evidence that China has been providing technology, training and technical assistance to the Ethiopian authorities to enable them to jam the signals of dozens of broadcasters, including Voice of America.
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According to CPJ, the Ethiopian government has long targeted international media for providing coverage of the terrorist groups. In 2009, the Ethiopian government went as far as accusing the Kenya-based broadcaster Nation Television (NTV) of giving a platform to terrorist groups in the Horn of Africa for airing a report on the OLF. In 2008, authorities accused Al Jazeera of “direct and indirect assistance to terrorist organisations” after it aired an exclusive report on the ONLF. In 2007, three “New York Times” journalists were detained for five days for reporting on the ONLF.

Enacted in July 2009, the anti-terrorism law contains an overly broad definition of acts of terrorism that could be used to suppress non-violent peaceful protests, and greatly expands police powers of search, seizure and arrest. The law also carries sentences of up to 20 years in prison, and provides for holding “terrorist suspects” for up to four months without charge.

June 29, 2011

ETHIOPIA “IN DANGER” OF BEING A “FAILED STATE” STUDY SHOWS

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 4:00 pm
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BRUH YIHUNBELAY

Ethiopia was ranked the 20th “failed state” in the world for the year 2011 by the annual Failed States Index (FSI).

The index is published annually by Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace, both based in Washington, DC.

The publishers say the index draws on 90,000 publicly available sources to analyze 177 countries and rate them on 12 metrics of state decay and categorize states as being either a critical, in danger, borderline, stable and not stable states.

Ethiopia scored 9.1 out of 10 in demographic pressures, 8.2 in refugee flows, 8.4 in group grievance, 7.2 in human flight, 8.2 in uneven development, 7.7 in economic decline, 7.5 in delegitimization of the state, 8.4 in public services, 8.5 in human rights, 7.9 in security apparatus, 9.0 in factionalized elites and 8.1 in external intervention.

The world’s “most vulnerable” nation, according to the annual report of the Index, is Somalia and the top five countries on the list are Somalia, Chad, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti.
This entry was written by Shlomo Bachrach, posted on June 29, 2011 at 7:38 am, filed under Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL

June 28, 2011

Ethiopian rebels: We handed over two aid workers we were holding

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 9:40 pm

Members of an Ethiopian rebel group on Tuesday said they had released two United Nations employees to the food agency they work for near the border with Somalia.
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The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) said in a statement the transfer of the World Food Programme workers took place on Monday.

The ONLF accused Ethiopia of trying to prevent transferring the workers to WFP.

“For almost a month the Ethiopian Army and security forces has set up many obstacles in order to stop all attempts by ONLF to hand over the two staff members. In order to safeguard the well-being of the workers, ONLF has decided to hand over the two workers outside Ethiopia,” the group said in a statement posted Tuesday on its website.

Recently, the group claimed that their fighters had rescued recently abducted staff working for the United Nations food agency after a fierce battle with Ethiopian military forces.

World Food Programme has not released any comments about the ONLF’s latest statement.

In May, the food agency said a driver working for WFP was gunned down and another staff member injured by unknown gunmen in the ethnic Somali region in eastern Ethiopia. It went on to say that two other employees were missing.

WFP provides food assistance to 4.5 million people in Ethiopia, including refugees and school children, in highly food-insecure areas.

This is the second deadly attack on a WFP humanitarian worker in less than a month to take place in the region.

However, the president of a Somali region under an Ethiopian protectorate, Abdi Mohmoud Omar, last month charged an Ethiopian rebel group with attacking and killing a driver and kidnapping others working for the U.N. food agency.

Omar said the ONLF rebel group is trying to block international relief agencies from reaching the Ogaden region to help drought-affected people.

He called for the international community to arrest ONLF officials abroad, accusing them of financing the armed guerillas.

Read more: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/90052820?Ethiopian%20rebels%3A%20We%20handed%20over%20two%20aid%20workers%20we%20were%20holding#ixzz1Qbq3GuWV

Ethiopia: EFJA Urges China to Stop Complicity in Jamming Satellite TV Transmissions

Filed under: Uncategorized — ethiopiantimes @ 9:37 pm

The Ethiopian Free Press Journalists’ Association (EFJA) has demanded that China put an end to its complicity in jamming the Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and other reputable broadcasters such as the Voice of America and Deutsche Welle Amharic Services.

ESAT, which recently resumed transmissions to Ethiopia after nearly two months of interruption, drew the attention of the EFJA to the fact that the People’s Republic of China has been providing technology, training and technical assistance to the regime in Ethiopia to enable it to jam ESAT’s transmissions to Ethiopia. After investigating the matter, EFJA has confirmed the veracity of the allegations from many credible sources inside and outside of Ethiopia.

Kifle Mulat, President of EFJA, noted that stifling freedom of expression and undermining efforts to spread democratic values in Ethiopia sets a bad precedent in the whole of Africa.

“Ethiopia is not only the seat of the African Union but also a historic symbol of freedom in Africa as the only African nation that has never been colonized. Aiding tyrants to stifle their people and block the free flow of information is tantamount to committing unwarranted crimes against the freedom-loving people of Africa that are making sacrifices to exercise their inalienable rights and free themselves from corrupt tyrants who are hampering progress in the continent,” Mr. Mulat said.

The President of EFJA also urged international organizations and nations promoting freedom and democracy to provide resources and support to the ESAT to overcome the China-backed jamming challenge that has seriously threatened the survival of ESAT, a unique grassroots media project totally funded by the Ethiopian Diaspora.

The Meles regime is currently blocking independent news websites and jamming the signals of dozens of broadcasters with the help of the Chinese government. Since its launch in April 2010, ESAT has faced intense signal interference that has disrupted its transmissions six times within the last year. Mr. Mulat further noted that the government of China must realize the fact that collaborating with African tyrants and exporting tools of repression to countries like Ethiopia is an inexcusable act that will further tarnish the image of China as a sponsor of tyranny and oppression.

ESAT was set up by a group of Ethiopian exiled journalists and pro-democracy activists to create an alternative media outlet for the people of Ethiopia, a country where freedom of expression has been criminalized. EFJA is seriously concerned over the collaboration of oppressive regimes to make life difficult not only for media organizations and journalists but also ordinary citizens who are denied a voice in their own country.

Article 29 of the current Ethiopian constitution stipulates: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression without any interference. This right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any media of his choice.” But the Meles regime routinely violates the letters of its own constitution. Hundreds of journalists have been forced into exile to escape illegal detention, harassment, torture and attacks.
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EFJA takes note of the fact that ESAT has been forced to change satellite service providers at least four times in the last year. It started broadcasting its programs to Ethiopia on Arabsat but was forced off air due to intense signal interference and diplomatic pressure. According to ESAT, a similar effort to continue broadcasting on Thaicon was frustrated after a few months again because of intense diplomatic pressure. But ESAT’s team continued transmissions on Intelsat, an American satellite company. While a diplomatic effort to disrupt ESAT transmissions failed, the Meles regime managed to jam ESAT’s signals using the jamming equipment provided by the Chinese government. EFJA expressed it solidarity and admiration for ESAT for its unrelenting efforts to create a powerful media platform for Ethiopians denied of the right to access uncensored news and information.

ESAT, which has studios in Amsterdam, Washington DC and London, is currently transmitting 24/7 on ABS1 Satellite, C-Band at 75 East Downlink: 3.480 GHz Vertical (3480), Symbol: 1.852 Msps (1852), FEC 2/3. It has plans to transmit on a Ku-Band and shortwave radio with a view to reaching a wider audience in Ethiopia. ESAT also webcasts its transmissions on http://www.ethsat.com.

June 27, 2011

Tigray Resources Inc, a company owned by bandits ruling Ethiopia, signed a contract with Canco

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 10:19 pm
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Canaco Resources (CAN.TSXV) announced that it received shareholder approval for the spin-out of Tigray Resources Inc. at a special meeting of shareholders held in Vancouver, Canada. The transaction will include the transfer of Canaco’s 70% interest in Harvest Mining PLC, which owns the Harvest VMS Project in Ethiopia, to Tigray, as well as $4 million, which represents 18 months’ working capital and sufficient funds to conduct the recommended first phase drill program.

Highlights:

* Under the terms of the spin-out, Canaco shareholders will be entitled to receive one common share of Tigray for every five common shares of Canaco held as of the effective date of the transaction, expected to be July 4, 2011.

* The spin-out transaction remains subject to final court approval and acceptance from the TSX Venture Exchange – expected to be obtained on June 27, 2011.

* Tigray has applied for a listing of its common shares on the TSX Venture Exchange

* Upon completion of the spin-out, Tigray’s initial mandate at the Harvest Project will be to complete geological, geochemical and geophysical profiling to establish targets for continued drill testing. An 11,000-meter first phase diamond drill program is planned for 2011, with an additional 3,000 meters follow-up drilling.

Andrew Lee Smith, President and CEO of Canaco:

“The spin-out of Tigray will expose existing Canaco shareholders to significant growth as exploration advances in Ethiopia. It will also allow the Company to continue to dedicate its resources to the exploration and development of the Handeni Gold Project in Tanzania. Based on the due diligence drilling completed in 2010, we are confident the Harvest Project hosts potential for the discovery of large, near-surface, gold-enriched polymetallic VMS deposits.”

Ethiopians free held Kenyan magistrate

Filed under: Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 8:15 pm
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A Moyale-based magistrate was on Monday released by authorities in Ethiopia who had locked him up for two days for allegedly using demeaning language against their government.

Mr Gatogo Sogomo was released on Sunday night after discussions between elders from Kenya and Ethiopian government representatives mostly from Oromo speaking administrators.

Kenyan elders led by Moyale county council chairman Golich Galgallo set up camp at the Ethiopian police station at the weekend seeking the magistrate’s release.

It was on only Sunday night after much persuasion, that a senior officer agreed to set Mr Sogomo free.

Closing hours

Mr Sogomo was arrested by Ethiopian policemen manning the border with Kenya on Friday night.

A senior police officer at Moyale police station who was part of the delegation sent to Ethiopia to rescue the magistrate said Ethiopian officers initially refused to negotiate.

“The officers refused to state their terms or the crime,” said the officer who declined to be mentioned since he is not allowed to speak for the police.

A witness, Mr Abdullahi Guyo said the Ethiopian officers allowed the magistrate to cross way after closing hours but barred his companion, resulting in a scuffle in which the magistrate allegedly uttered words which annoyed the Ethiopians who arrested him.

June 26, 2011

Ethiopia: Ethiopia food prices unaffordable for many

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 11:38 am
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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — When Ethiopia’s government imposed price controls in January to combat the spiraling cost of staples like meat, cooking oil and bread, butcher Wabe Habse had a long line of customers, but could barely make a profit.
Now, after price controls were dropped earlier this month, Wabe is still not making money.

“The meat market has collapsed,” said Wabe, who raised his prices nearly two-fold and saw his customers abandon him. “I am not sure how we are going to survive.”
Ethiopia, like many African nations, has seen spiraling food prices this year. Nearby Uganda has seen violent protests over rising costs.
Buyers and sellers in Ethiopia’s capital say the government’s attempt to bring down prices by imposing price caps on basics like oil and sugar for five months this year has caused even more turmoil. When they were in place, the price caps bankrupted businesses that could not afford to sell at cheaper prices.
The government claims the country is a victim of rising international food prices, but the International Monetary Fund says the government is causing inflation by borrowing and printing money to pay for infrastructure projects. One economist called the government’s attempt at price caps “a fool’s errand.”
After most of the caps were lifted in early June, prices again soared to levels unaffordable for many here. Already, 3.2 million Ethiopians depend on food aid. Recent government figures put inflation at nearly 35 percent in the last year.
In a rare show of rebellion in a country historically used to authoritarianism, Ethiopian consumers earlier this month started a text-message campaign to boycott meat in an attempt to force prices down. Wabe says the campaign has affected his customer base but that he can’t afford to reduce prices.
“There is no profit if I do that,” he said.
Taxi driver Abraham Habtamu, who earns about $60 a month in Addis Ababa, said that since the price controls were dropped he can only afford to gaze longingly at the beef that is now selling for about $5 a kilogram ($2.30 a pound), up from the capped price of about $3 a kilogram ($1.40 a pound).
“For me it is untouchable,” said Abraham, who is his family’s main provider.
Prices of cheaper goods such as chickpea flour have also risen. The flour, which formerly cost about 65 cents a kilo (30 cents a pound), is used to make a stew that is generally considered a poor man’s meal. Now it costs $1.60 a kilo (70 cents a pound).
Economist Seid Hassan, who was born in Ethiopia but is now a professor in Kentucky, said imposing price caps to fight inflation has been “a fool’s errand.”
“The measure was taken without any careful study about the causes of rampant inflation, and the ruling party took the measures to distract public anger and potential unrest,” said the economics professor, who teaches at Murray State University.
If it wants to create a healthy economy, Ethiopia should “minimize its heavy interventions in the ‘free’ market,” he said.
This East African nation’s communist government was overthrown in 1991 by the current administration, which despite promises of adopting free market principles established an economy in which state enterprises dominate key industries. Other sectors are strictly regulated.

Justice Getting Scarce, Power in the Hands of Few, Says Reporter

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 11:28 am
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June 25, 2011 – Justice is getting scarcer by the day in Ethiopia, says the Editorial at the Reporter. It has become pointless to lodge a complaint with government agencies because none of them are responsive to the public’s grievances, the reports continues.

The courts are not much better in dispensing justice either. The problem cannot be laid at the door of a specific judge, prosecutor or police officer; it is systemic. The constitutionally guaranteed right of access to justice is something one enjoys by chance and not as a matter of course. No-one knows when and where it can be exercised. Only a select band of privileged individuals get to “partake” from this “expensive rarity”.

The public is no more regarded as the pillar of the country, as a decisive force and as a taxpayer which deserves to be treated with humility and respect. We find ourselves at a time when corrupt and dictatorial public officials as well as their network of cohorts have taken the upper hand leaving honest, law-abiding and patriotic citizens victims of injustice and feeling sidelined and disenfranchised.

Though public officials always say their doors are always, their hearts and minds are closed. And though all public entities claim to uphold such principles of ethics as “transparency”, “integrity”, “serving the public interest”, etc, the principles are actually alien to them. And as nobody is willing to heed the suggestions the public forwards, the “suggestion boxes” put in government offices would better read “garbage bins”.

So, just as the public solaced itself during the forced resettlement period by telling itself that the Creator could have abandoned it only if It too was forcibly resettled, it is now ascribing the current state of affairs to “enemies which have penetrated the ranks of the government.” This defense of the government, however, is slowly giving way to the belief that the problem is not confined to a few “rogue elements” who have managed to mislead the government and that the government, as an institution, has become mired in corruption and has chosen not to serve but to be served by the public.

Click here to read more on this: Reporter

June 25, 2011

Ethiopia:crimes of Meles Zenawie, Export food to import food

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 9:56 am
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Zenawi denied that the price controls were meant to contain an Arab-style revolt by the people.

Other factors also suggest that he may be around for quite some time. His articulate thoughts on economies and Ethiopia’s military capability have helped Zenawi become a spokesperson for the continent, as well as for developing nations in various international forums.

He co-chaired the UN’s Climate Change panel and leads Africa on climate negotiations,articulating the region’s concerns at G8 and G20 gatherings.

According to local party supporters and international admirers, Zenawi is unconventionally “brilliant”.

And despite deteriorating governance at home, Ethiopia’s development aid has been steadily growing. Following the Arab uprising, Ethiopia,sub-Saharan Africa’s second most populous country, has been in a tailspin schedule over its grand plan to erect a Sh45 billion hydro dam on the Nile River.

The decision sparked excitement and support towards the administration, with Ethiopians keen on contributing to building the dam without any foreign aid.

Egypt, for whom the Nile waters are an economic lifeline, desperately sent delegations to Addis Ababa to plead with the Ethiopian leader to ensure that the 5,250 megawatt dam did not harm her share of the water.

Zenawi has managed to tap this into a diplomatic victory and is now politically being portrayed as the most patriotic leader Ethiopia has ever had.

His image is now even appearing on the walls of individual homes and offices, as well as on big billboards in major streets.

The government’s five-year growth plan aims to transform Ethiopia into a middle income country by increasing productivity and generating internal wealth.

Zenawi has also set a target to end foreign food aid within the next four years, with nearly three million people in danger of
starvation this year.

Despite the campaign by the Ethiopian Youth Movement — including thousands of pamphlets to educational institutions — it looks increasing likely that Zenawi will be in power a lot longer.

For now, the mysterious group remains only on Facebook and Twitter, at odds with the situation on the ground

June 24, 2011

Ethiopia’s Nile Hydro-Dam left out of 2012 federal Budget : AF

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 7:15 pm
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The massive hydroelectric dam planned along the Nile river in Ethiopia has not received federal funds in the 2011/2012 ET calendar budget, according to Addis Fortune (AF) newspaper’s report from parliament. Despite the dramatic standoffs with Egypt, many critics have often suggested that the “Renaissance Dam” idea was a propaganda tactic used by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s regime to divert people’ attention from uprisings in North Africa and the rising cost of living in Ethiopia.

(AF) The federal government announced its ballooning budget of 117.8 billion Br for the 2011/12 fiscal year to Parliament last week. The draft budget for next year showed an increase of 40 billion Br, up by 52.3pc, from this year’s budget of 77.2 billion Br.

A year into the government’s ambitious five-year GTP, 23 billion Br has been allotted to recurrent expenditure, 48 billion Br to capital expenditure, and 31 billion Br to subsidies to regions. Among the additions to the budget is 15 billion Br earmarked for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that would be supervised by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED). In the draft, five billion Birr is allocated for water and energy, up from 2.5 billion Br this year; while eight billion Birr is allocated for agriculture and rural development, up from 5.6 billion Br this year. A total of 15 billion Br and 18 billion Br is set allotted for education and urban development, up from 12.3 billion Br and 13.8 billion Br, respectively, this year. For defence, 6.5 billion Br is put aside, up from 4.4 billion Br this year.

The government plans to collect 100.6 billion Br to finance these, as noted in the 121-page budget. Out of the total, 79 billion Br is planned to be collected from domestic revenues and 21.4 billion Br from external assistance. The government aims to take out loans amounting to 10.6 billion Br from domestic sources and 6.6 billion Br from external loans. The annual inflation rate also increased to 34.7pc in May 2011, accelerating from 25.6pc the previous month, as food prices surged, according to data from the Central Statistical Agency (CSA).

The IMF has forecasted Ethiopia’s growth rate may fall from 7.5pc this year to six per cent in the next fiscal year, partly due to inflation. The government’s growth forecast for the current fiscal year is 11pc.

Pundits are more concerned about other huge projects that are not included in the budget, such as aviation, telecommunications, and the Renaissance Dam. As part of the GTP financing requirements these programmes which are for infrastructure and industrial development will be undertaken off budget estimated and are expected to cost 569 billion Br during the GTP’s five year period.

“The exclusion of these key sectors from the budget does not paint a clear picture of how much government is going to spend next year,” a lecturer in economics at Admas University College told Fortune on condition of anonymity. “The budget increase should not have come as a surprise. Inflation being at around 30pc the budget increase is not that significant,” said a macro economist.

Macro economists also noted that inflation would continue to grow postulating three factors. “First inflation is entrenched in the system, global prices are rising and will continue to impact the economy and third financing the GTP cannot come through tax revenues or loans. One would expect the government to start printing money and add to the inflation,” the economist noted. “The question of where the financing from local sources will come is an even bigger concern.”

The same sentiments were echoed by Girma Seifu, the sole opposition MP and chairman of the standing committee for the budget and financial affairs.

“The issue here is that the government will be competing with the private sector for financing from local sources,” Girma told Fortune. “If the proposed 10 billion Br funding for road projects is obtained from private commercial banks, five banks would have depleted their liquidity right then and there.”

He advised the government to look for financing abroad.

“It would be best if the government looked for soft long-term loans from abroad as the money could support huge projects while allowing the private sector access to finances,” Girma said. “This would not only allow them to continue doing business, but would also create confidence among the business community.”

The draft budget was referred by Parliament to the standing committee for further scrutiny.

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