September 30, 2011

Recent Taxi Fare Hike Triggers Public Outcry

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 8:41 am

September 29, 2011 – The hike in taxi fare has led to widespread public outcry in Ethiopia, according to Capital. With the new tariff rates becoming effective from September 19th, the minimum fare goes up by 15 cents, from 1.25 birr to 1.40birr. Though transport officials and taxi owners have defended the hike on the ground of rising costs of spare parts, people from all parts of the country have expressed unhappiness and maintained that the increase will add to the economic burden.

The latest taxi tariff hike in Ethiopia has come as a surprise for many commuters. In the past, it was the increase in the fuel price that led to the government decision on raising taxi tariffs. However, with crude oil prices almost stable in the international market and no possible fuel price rise in the domestic market in the offing, the decision on fare hike has jolted many who depend on taxis to commute between home and office.

Transport officials, however, have justified the hike and maintained that the tariff review took place after a thorough study. Federal Transport Authority Director Kasahun Hailemariam has termed that the tariff hike is in the interest of taxi owners and the public. According to him, the tariff revisions are essential to help taxis provide efficient services and the government has taken into consideration the capacity of the commuters to pay while fixing the new fare. Feleke Haile, chief of Addis Ababa Road and Transport Bureau, argues that the decision has been reached following consultations with people and that due consideration has been given to taxi owners’ complaints about rising cost of tyres and spare parts over the years.

A number of media reports have blamed the introduction of taxi zoning system for the increase in the tariff. When the system commenced on May 11, 2011, many had predicted that tariffs would see an upswing on the demand of the taxi owners. Sources claimed at that time that transport officials had agreed to revise taxi fares. People are of the opinion that the taxi zoning system will improve public transportation but increase commuting costs.

The rise in transportation costs due to the taxi fare hike is sure to add to the despair of citizens. Many office goers are finding it tough to accommodate additional expenditure on transportation, and their anguish is well understood. Inflation in Ethiopia is already in double figure and food prices have climbed by 50 percent in the past few months despite price control measures by the government. Many parts of the country, including Addis Abba, lack adequate public transportation system, and bus services are also limited. People depend on taxi services for daily transportation.


Murder charges for parents who left girl outside

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 8:37 am

Hana, from Ethiopia, had been adopted through an international agency in 2008 along with a 10-year-old boy, also from Ethiopia. Prosecutors charged the adoptive parents with assault of a child in the first degree in connection with their treatment of …
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September 29, 2011

United Nations’ cultural arm may be forced to create a prize named after Equatorial Guinea’s notoriously corrupt president,

Filed under: Africa — ethiopiantimes @ 10:26 pm

DAKAR, Senegal — The African heads of state who converged on the capital of Equatorial Guinea this summer are used to life’s finer things – yet even they were impressed.
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HRW declares war with Mitchell over Ethiopia aid claims

The powerful NGO says the international development secretary has been “disingenuous” and “misleading”Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, of being “disingenuous” and “misleading” about the misuse of aid in Ethiopia.

Last month, an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Newsnight revealed that the Ethipian government was using long-term development aid for political purposes. It found that communities considered loyal to the opposition had been denied food aid, seed and fertiliser.

Appearing on Newsnight last Wednesday, Mitchell stated that no British development support goes through the government of Ethiopia. He also said that officials had conducted an on-the-ground investigation and found no evidence of the systemic misuse of food aid.

This is where HRW got involved. Jan Egeland, the deputy executive director for HRW Europe, has written an open letter questioning Mitchell’s comments. It uses exceptionally strong language, and is unprecedented in accusing a secretary of state of being misleading, and implying he has bowed to pressure from the Ethiopian government. Here are the highlights:

You said in the Newsnight interview that DFID officials had investigated the allegations but, “found no evidence at all of systemic misuse of food support.” However, . a proper investigation capable of drawing conclusions about the nature of abuses by the Ethiopian government would need to be conducted at the field level, and our understanding is that no such investigation has been undertaken.

. . .

Your claim that no British support goes through the Ethiopian government is disingenuous. The vast majority of British support to Ethiopia passes through the government.

. . .

We recognise that the Ethiopian government is extremely resistant to scrutiny. Nonetheless, the British government and other donors to Ethiopia should not allow the Ethiopian government to dictate the terms on which public British money is monitored, and every effort should be made to prevent British development aid from strengthening authoritarian rule and repression.

The letter goes on to explain that the Ethiopian federal government is responsible for administering and monitoring the largest development programme, which the British Ambassador to Ethiopia said was “budget support in all but name”.

Mitchell has replied:

As I have made clear, the British government does not agree with all of your assertions nor your conclusions. We also do not believe the report is methodologically sound.

Human Rights Watch is an organisation for which I have profound respect and admiration.

But it is important not to overstate criticisms in an unbalanced manner, the effect of which will be to undermine the vital work HRW carries out in other parts of the world.

You point out in your letter that the Ethiopian government must not dictate the terms on which British public money is monitored. I am happy to confirm that this is not the case.

After Mitchell’s Newsnight appearance, a DfID official confirmed that the investigation he referred to was actually a desk study conducted from Addis Ababa. It looks as if the matter will not be resolved until a full on-the-ground investigation is carried out.

UPDATE – 3.20pm: I’ve been contacted by DfID, who said that the statement read out on Newsnight (regarding the desk study) was inaccurate. The following clarification was read out on Friday’s programme:

The Department for International Development has confirmed that, as Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell made clear on Wednesday’s programme, DFID officials in Ethiopia did make regular field visits to look into the allegations of aid distortion.

Those field visits — and dozens of similar visits by other donor agencies — made clear that there was no systemic distortion for political reasons in the distribution of aid.

Hydro Power Project in Ethiopia Delayed

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 6:00 pm

The construction of the Chemoga-Yeda hydropower plant on the outskirts of Debre Markos is lagging behind schedule due to lack of finances.

The 555 million dollar hydropower project was being funded by the Chinese EXIM bank. It was planned to be executed in two stages and to generate 278 megawatt of electricity.

The Chemoga-Yeda River is one of the tributaries of the Nile. Countries downstream of the Nile are concerned about the hydropower project and have been lobbying to the EXIM bank for delay in financing the project, officials of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) said.

The Chemoga-Yeda hydropower project was officially awarded to Sinohydro Corporation, a Chinese firm, in September 2009 and scheduled to be completed in 2013.

Ethiopian officials have been working hard to convince officials of the bank and the government of China to honour the deal for financing the project.

The EEPCo officials say that the Chemoga-Yeda’s contribution is less than one percent of the total volume of the Nile. “We do not need to deal with others or suspend the project because of external interference,” they said.

Sources at the EEPCo said that officials of the EXIM bank had agreed to release the fund once they understood how small the contribution of the Chemoga-Yeda is to the Nile.

EEPCo officials say that the project will continue in full swing in the near future.

The project is expected to be completed in four years and nine months according to the plan, and will involve the construction of five dams on the Chemoga, Yeda, Sens, Getla and Bogena rivers.

Source: Capital

September 28, 2011

Ethiopia suspends five Saudi recruitment agencies

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 8:49 am

DAMMAM – Ethiopian authorities have suspended the operations of five Saudi foreign recruitment agencies, criticizing what they claim is exploitation of domestic servants by these companies in Saudi Arabia.
Hussein Al-Muttairi, member of the Foreign Recruitment Committee at the Asharqia (Eastern Province) Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has downplayed the decision attributing it to the delay in the payment of salaries to some workers, others being deported without receiving all remuneration and other problems.
Al-Muttairi said the Ethiopian authorities have temporarily suspended the work of these recruitment agencies. These agencies have approached Saudi authorities for redressal of their grievances, he said.
Al-Muttairi said that the matter is now being resolved, saying it was provoked because of the increased demand for Ethiopian domestic workers due to a ban on the recruitment of Indonesian and Filipino workers.
“The pressure was reduced after Ramadan. Currently Dammam airport receives three flights from Addis Ababa weekly with 150 to 200 passengers on board, most of them domestic workers,” he said.
Al-Muttairi said the demand is still huge, with 20 applications processed every week, with an elevated time ceiling for the workers’ arrival.
He blamed much of the problems on the domestic labor market in Ethiopia which lacks qualified training institutions.
However, he said, within the next few months, training centers will be opened in Ethiopia by Saudi-Ethiopian investors. __

September 27, 2011

Nine Ethiopian band members killed, 17 injured

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 6:38 pm

Ethiopia has been plunged into mourning after nine artists were killed and 17 seriously injured in a car accident.

Police said the accident happened on Monday in the Amhara region while the artists were travelling to South Sudan for a concert that was scheduled for this weekend.

The well known artists are members of the Tigray Cultural Squad who played “significant roles” in the struggle against the military regime in Ethiopia.

The injured and bodies of their colleagues were evacuated from the area by helicopter

According to the Tigray Culture and Tourism Bureau, all of them are members of the Tigray Cultural Squad who “played significant roles in the bitter struggle to ensure equality, freedom and democracy in Ethiopia.”

They are Berhane Gebremeskel (Gano), Berhane Gebrehiwot (handebet), Berhane Andey (Kunama), Letemeskel Gbrehiwot (Agew), Tekie Tesfamariam, Haile Gerlasie, Berhane Gebremichael, Ashenafi Mengistu and Habtome.

Ethiopia has one of the highest number of traffic accidents on the continent with around 2,000 people being killed on the roads annually.

Ethiopian Christians celebrate the discovery of the True Cross

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 6:32 pm

Tens of Millions of Ethiopian Orthodox church followers on Tuesday evening celebrate the eve of Demera, a festival marking the discovery of the True Cross, a crucifix on which Jesus Christ is believed to have been crucified.
Ethiopia has a population of about 80 million people, and half of those are believed to be Orthodox Christians.

In Addis Ababa, the main centre of the festivities, thousands of people have already made a pilgrimage to Meskel Square, where the celebration will take place on Tuesday evening.

The square is already teeming with tourists, Christians and the diplomatic community, who are all gathered to take part in the commemorations.

Roads leading to Meskel Square, a traditional place for hosting huge crowds, have since been closed as the authorities try to prevent traffic jams and congestion.

The eve of Demera, which means the discovery of the True Cross, is a colourful celebration across Ethiopia.

Each year, the celebrations in Addis Ababa are attended by more than 100 000 people.

The day is marked with a grand bonfire ceremony, which is lit by the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Paulos, as he gives religious blessings to the gathering.

Hundreds of priests and deacons, dressed in traditional Ethiopian plain white clothes sing hymns to add colour to the event.
The festival, which dates back 1 600 years ago, is celebrated with yellow Meskel daisies placed on top of huge bonfires that are lit in the evening in front of the throngs of celebrators.
Ornate priests, carrying silver Coptic crosses, dance with their followers around the fires singing and chanting, while carrying flaming torches.

Empress Helena

The festivities, which are capped by the recreation of the cross using Meskel daisies, also mark the end of the three-month long rainy season and the return of summer to Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months. The thirteenth month, known, as Pagume, like a leap year, has 5 or six days depending on the season.

The celebration of Meskel signifies the presence of the True Cross at the mountain of Gishen Mariam Monastery in Ethiopia and also symbolises the events carried out by Empress Helena.

According to tradition, smoke drifted towards the direction of the buried cross when Empress Helena lit incense and prayed for assistance and guidance.

She dug and found three crosses; one of them was the True Cross on which Jesus Christ is believed to have been crucified.

The empress then gave a piece of the True Cross to all churches, including the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Parts of the cross were said to be in Israel.

This piece has since been brought to Ethiopia.

According to Ethiopian legend, when people got close to a piece of the True Cross it made them naked because of its powerful light.

For this reason, a decision was made to bury it at the Gishen Mariam Monastery in Wollo region.

The monastery is home to a voluminous book, which records the story of the True Cross of Christ and how it was acquired. The place is one of Ethiopia’s main tourist attractions.

September 26, 2011

Tax Authority Shells Out Millions for Tips

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 8:43 pm
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source addis Fortune

A total of 53.5 million Br was paid By the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) as a reward to informants who tipped them off about tax fraud and led to seizure of contraband and illegal items.

ERCA, which collected 51 billion Br last year, received 2189 tips from informants, out of which 1611 were considered reliable, and of which 87o led to real information. Based on the information given, the authority was able to conduct investigative audits and pass decisions for payments.

The amount paid out last year, was 61.1pc more than the 33 million it paid out the previous year. Back then, the highest amount, 2.5 million Br, was paid to an informant who gave information about an individual who tried to smuggle 46.96kg of gold worth of 5.7 million Br out of the country through Djibouti.

The highest amounts in 2010/11 fiscal year, 10 million and 7.6 million Br, were paid through the Dire Dawa and Jijiga tax offices, mainly for information that led to confiscation of contraband items.

During that period the authority confiscated different commodities, including live animals like Cheetahs, being smuggled out of the country, according to the performance report of the tax authority. These were worth a total of 208 million Br, out of which were 3.2 million Br and 1.1 million dollars, which were seized while being taken out of the country.

Two informants, of whom one was an employee of Bambis Supermarket, which has been accused of tax evasion of 91 million in back taxes and later reduced to million Br, are among the highest paid informants. The company used one Goods Receivable Note (GRN) which it duplicated for five consecutive years for the commission of fraud, according to the authority.

The two informants of BGI Ethiopia, the biggest of the five breweries, who provided information about the underreporting of the sales volume amounting to 109 million Br, are also among the highest paid to date. They were rewarded 1.4 million.

However, the informants have sued the authority claiming an additional 4.4 million Br. The authority alleges that the informants did not come up with concrete information that led to the discovery of the evasion. The case is being heard in the Federal High Court.

Though informants have different motives when they bring information to ERCA, the amount of money awarded is a major factor for attracting them, an official at the intelligence department who is not authorized to comment told Fortune.

Previously, ERCA varied the percentage of payment depending on the amount of money discovered as a result of a tip. It has now changed this to a 20pc flat rate for any amount as of January, 2011.

The reward for information in the investigation of Oil Libya is expected to be highest ever paid to an informant. The tax authority claims that Oil Libya owes 210 million Br in back taxes for the acquisition of shares from Shell Ethiopia Limited in 2008. The informant will be rewarded around 41 million Br, if the ERCA collects on its claim.

Interview With EPRP High Official Ato Eyasu Alemayew

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 10:47 am

Ethiopia Andnet Radio Stockholm Interview With EPRP High Official Ato Eyasu Alemayew Ethiopatriots

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