Opening parliament, president tells members regime recognizes Meles’s monetary policy has been wrong and harmful

12 Oct

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin

President Girma Woldegiorgis told parliament at the beginning of the week that government would not take loans from the National Bank during the current Ethiopian fiscal year as part of its deficit financing, according to The Reporter. The paper indicated that this change of heart has come because the Meles regime has finally recognized that the lose money policy it has this far pursued has damaged the country’s economy, persistent double-digit inflation destroying the lives of ordinary people.

This vindicates the Ethiopian opposition at home and the diaspora abroad that have vigorously campaigned to save the country from the regime’s disastrous monetary and economic policies, that today are responsible for the for the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots in Ethiopia. By the admission of the government, this rise in income inequality estimated at 14 percent in 2010 (MDG report) has pushed up the number of those wallowing in destitution and poverty.

The unfortunate thing, however, is that there is no solution to the perennial problems of government budget shortfalls. We would sooner or later hear through leaks or official admissions after the damage that the Meles regime has continued the same polices through different ment. Even if it does not go to the National Bank for loans this year, it would sooner or later find a backdoor to money to overcome the budgetary problem it would face in the course of the remaining nine months of this fiscal year.

For instance, last July in parliament Meles said that his government would take loans from the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE). I said to myself then that is the ultimate disaster. In a country where bank loans have already been difficult without political or ethnic connections, the regime now taking loans from DBE would dry up finance to many entrepreneurs in the private businesses.The ruling party’s businesses may not get hurt by this crowding out. I cannot be certain about the private sector that has already been edged out by the likes of EFFORT and state enterprises of the developmental state of Ethiopia.

When I read what the prime minister said in parliament in regard to his going to DBE, I already got a sense of what he had in mind. Therefore, on 2 August 2011 in an article entitled “Transforming Ethiopia calls for commitment to laws, regulations and procedures” I observe on this webpage:

    “As far as inflation is concerned, although the prime minister admitted openly for the first time that money supply was the real culprit behind Ethiopia’s double-digit inflation, [he interjected] in this context a worrying logic that locally purchasing power of ETB has not been affected! He added that concerns over the budget [it would worsen] inflation were unwarranted. Without providing any evidence about effectiveness of the budget against poverty eradication in the overall sense to date, he said Ethiopia has capacity to implement even a budget of higher magnitude, if only the country had more resources.

    The explanation on government deficit financing was also cause for concern for many parliamentarians. The prime minister indicated that he would not order the National Bank to print money or borrow from it. Instead, a worse measure he has in mind is to sell treasuries to the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) to secure ETB 10.6 billion. Recall that the DBE released its five-year strategic plan only in October 2010. Therein, it indicated that its goal was to provide more loans for investments to the private sector to the tune of ETB 22 billion. Now it appears that government desire to finance its deficit through that would, without a doubt, crowd out private investors.”

That is not the end of the story. In the 2011/12 Ethiopian budget, there is an allocation of ETB 15 billion, which have put the prime minister and his finance minister in opposite camps in their statements in parliament last July. Supposedly that money is legally earmarked for utilization by the regions to carry out their MDG related activities. Now I fear that this money would not reach them. When I wrote my analyses on the budget, I was convinced that the prime minister had something else in mind. Thus, of that I wrote in the same article:

“Finally, on the ETB 15 billion, allocated for support for MDG and for direct utilization by the regions, in accordance with the 2004 Budget Proclamation, the conflicting explanations provided by the prime minister and his finance minister were unfortunate. Not that they need resolution, since Meles is also the finance minister. However, as far as, parliament is concerned neutrality has been its chosen path. The finance minister says the monies belonged to the regions. The prime minister argues these monies belonged to the federal government, not the regions.

Now the problem is that this would put government auditors in a difficult position. In other words, what position could they take, in terms of mandate for their reviews of the use of that ETB 15 billion? Nor is it clear why the prime minister should be insistent that the money stay with the federal government. I never knew he was so badly in need of huge allotment for petty cash–rather discretionary budget of this magnitude!”

    The other danger now is the Meles regime may resort perhaps to using foreign aid allotted for projects, or grant monies or even foreign loans to cover its chronic budget deficits. In extreme situations, further farmlands may be thrown at cheaper concessions for agricultural investors or a good number of foreign companies may be allowed to rampage the country in an attempt to explore minerals or oil–all this for short-term financial benefits!

    God save Ethiopia!

    Below here is the news report by The Ethiopian Reporter of 12 OCTOBER 2011 on the President’s speech:

    መንግሥት ዘንድሮ ከብሔራዊ ባንክ እንደማይበደር አስታወቀ

    መንግሥት ከብሔራዊ ባንክ የሚበደረው ገንዘብ የዋጋ ግሽበትን እንደሚያስከትል በመገንዘቡ፣ በያዝነው ዓመት ከኢትዮጵያ ብሔራዊ ባንክ ብድር ላለመውሰድ የወሰነ መሆኑን ፕሬዚዳንት ግርማ ወልደ ጊዮርጊስ አስታወቁ፡፡

    ከዚህ ቀደም መንግሥት ከብሔራዊ ባንክ የሚበደረው ገንዘብ ለግሽበት ምክንያት መሆኑን አምኖ አያውቅም ነበር፡፡ 

    ፕሬዚዳንቱ ከትናንት በስቲያ በተወካዮች ምክር ቤት ተገኝተው ለሕዝብ ተወካዮች ምክር ቤትና ለፌዴሬሽን ምክር ቤት ሁለተኛ የሥራ ዘመን የጋራ ስብሰባ ላይ ባሰሙት የመክፈቻ ንግግር እንደገለጹት፣ መንግሥት የዋጋ ግሽበት የአገሪቱን ልማትና ዝቅተኛ ገቢ ያላቸውን ወገኖች የሚጐዳ ክስተት እንደሆነ አምኗል፡፡ የግሽበቱ አገራዊ መንስዔዎች የሆኑትን ችግሮች ለመፍታት የተንቀሳቀሰ መሆኑን፣ የገንዘብ አቅርቦት መብዛት የሚጫወተውን አሉታዊ ሚና በመገንዘብ፣ የመንግሥትን ወጪ ከብሔራዊ ባንክ በሚገኝ ብድር ላለመሸፈን ከፍተኛ ጥንቃቄ ተደርጓል ብለዋል፡፡ ይህንን ተከትሎም በያዝነው የበጀት ዓመት ከብሔራዊ ባንክ የገንዘብ ብድር እንዳይወስድ መወሰኑን አረጋግጠዋል፡፡

    መንግሥት ለበጀት ጉድለት ማሟያ ከብሔራዊ ባንክ የሚወስደው የገንዘብ ብድር በኢኮኖሚው ላይ ከፍተኛ ጉዳት እያደረሰ መሆኑን ተቃዋሚዎች ሲገልጹ የነበረ ቢሆንም፣ መንግሥት ግን ብድሩ የሚያስከትለው ችግር አለመኖሩን በመግለጽ ሲከራከር ቆይቷል፡፡

    መንግሥት ከዚህ ቀደም ከብሔራዊ ባንክ የሚወስደውን ብድር በተመለከተ ትችት ሲሰነዘርበት፣ አገሪቱ የምትከተለው የገንዘብ ፖሊሲ በጣም ጠንካራና ከየትኛውም አገር ጋር ሲመዘን የሚደነቅ መሆኑን በመግለጽ ድክመቱን ለመሸፈን ይሞክር እንደነበር ለሪፖርተር ያስታወሱት የኢዴፓ ሊቀመንበር አቶ ሙሼ ሰሙ፣ መንግሥት ግትር አቋሙን ቀይሮ ብድሩ ለግሽበቱ ምክንያት መሆኑን ማመኑ እንዳስገረማቸው ተናግረዋል፡፡

    አቶ ሙሼ እንደሚሉት፣ መንግሥት ከብሔራዊ ባንክ የሚበደረው ገንዘብ ለኢኮኖሚ ግሽበት ምክንያት መሆኑን ዘግይቶም ቢሆን ማመኑ በበጐ ጐኑ የሚገለጽ ቢሆንም፣ በያዝነው ዓመት ያለውን 20 ቢሊዮን ብር የበጀት ጉድለት እንዴት ሊያስተካክለው ይችላል? የሚለው ጉዳይ ግን አሳሳቢ መሆኑን ሳይገልጽ አላለፈም፡፡

    የበጀት ጉድለቱን የግምጃ ቤት ሰነድ በመሸጥ ይሸፈናል እንዳይባል ሠራተኛውና ነጋዴው ኅብረተሰብ ለዓባይ ግድብ ግንባታ ቦንድ በመግዛት ያለውን ሀብት የተጠቀመበት መሆኑን፣ ባንኮችም የብድራቸውን 27 በመቶ ለመንግሥት እንዲሰጡ በመገደዳቸው ምክንያት የግምጃ ቤት ሰነድ የመግዛት አቅማቸው መመናመኑን የገለጹት አቶ ሙሼ፣ መንግሥት አሁን ባለው ተጨባጭ ሁኔታ ከብሔራዊ ባንክ ገንዘብ ላይበደር የሚችልበት ምክንያት እንቆቅልሽ እንደሆነባቸው ተናግረዋል፡፡

    እርሳቸው እንደሚሉት፣ ምናልባት መንግሥት ከብሔራዊ ባንክ አልበደርም ያለው፣ የገንዘብ ክምችታቸውን እንደ ኢትዮጵያ ላሉ የሦስተኛው ዓለም አገሮች ለማበደር ፍላጐት ካላቸው ቻይናን ከመሳሰሉ አገሮች በመበደር የበጀት ጉድለቱን ለመሙላት አስቦ ይሆናል፡፡ በአቶ ሙሼ እምነት መንግሥት ከውጭ መንግሥታት የሚያገኘው ብድርም ቢሆን በአገሪቱ ኢኮኖሚ ላይ የሚያስከትለው የራሱ ተፅዕኖ ሊኖር ስለሚችል ጥንቃቄ ሊደረግ ይገባል፡፡ 

    ‹‹ብድሩ የሚገኘው እንዴት ነው? ወለዱ ስንት ነው? በምን ያህል ጊዜ ነው የሚከፈለው? የሚለው ጉዳይ አሳሳቢ ነው፤›› ይላሉ፡፡

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