Ethiopian Diaspora at Sheraton Addis bombarded government

21 January 2011,
BY NEW BUSINESS ETHIOPIA —

The Ethiopian diaspora who are invited to a consultative meeting at the Sheraton Addis here in Addis Ababa, bombarded government officials with complains about lack of justice, good governance and democracy in the country.

The main objective of the meeting, which is organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today (January 21, 2011), was to get feedback on government’s five-years ambitious development plan and on the pipeline diaspora policy.

Some of the participants stated that even though they are ready to actively take part in the realization of government’s five years Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), lack of justice, good governance at grassroots (keble and Wereda) level, which they have witnessed in the country so far, will remain to be major obstacles.

“There is no justice in the country; I can tell you in detail personally if you want,” said one diaspora from Saudi Arabia, after winning dozens of participants who scramble to get the chance to express their thoughts at the meeting.

“Without justice, good governance and competent civil servants at kebele and wereda level, whatever attractive plans the government design, it doesn’t work,” said another.

“I want to know why exactly you gathered us here,” asked another participant, staring at the invited government officials on the podium, which includes the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minster Hailemariam Desalegn, among others.

“Is it just to listen what we feel about our country and go home? Or is it to give us a solution so that we won’t talk about these problem again when we meet some other time,” he questions suggesting the formation of a committee immediately involving the participants.

Doing Business
One of the goals of GTP is to double annual growth of manufacturing industry sector from the current 10.6 percent to 20 percent at the end of five year and increasing its contribution to GDP to 16.9 percent from 12.8 at the moment.

“If you want us to be engaged in the development of the country’s industry sector, you need to ease the current bureaucracy,” said one participant.

According to GTP, industry growth is expected to be achieved by the fast growth of agricultural sector, which will engage the private sector to be engaged in commercial farming and emergence of more productive small land farmers who use better technologies.

“In a country where private banks are not willing to give us loan for agriculture projects, how do you expect to meet your target,” asked another who said that he has been looking for a loan from banks for the past 18 months and couldn’t find one.

A government official indicated that the state-owned Development Bank of Ethiopia is willing to finance 70 percent of investment in agriculture.

Another participant complains about Addis Ababa City’s land administration. “Even though I have imported machineries to substitute imported medicines producing locally, the city administration didn’t respond so far to my request of land allocation for constructing the factory,” he said.

Responding to the complain, officials of land administration of Addis Ababa city who were also at the meeting noted that they will look into it as pharmaceutical sector is one of government’s priority investment area.

If locally produced, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, textile and garment, leather and agro processing are identified by Ethiopian government as strategic products, which have a great impact in reducing import bill of the country.

Another participant, who gets mad by the country’s drug administration of control agency, indicated that she spent three years to import one type of medicine which the country needs badly to save many lives from death.

She indicated that the agency banned more than 70 percent of medicines, which the rest of the world uses to save lives. “I wonder why they ban some critical medicines from being imported to the country,” she complained.

Hailemariam, who indicated that he is not aware of the issue promised to look into it and get response from the drug controlling agency.

The participants have also complained about the law that forbids them from investing in financial sector just because they have another country’s nationality. But, couldn’t get the answer they expected from the Governor of the National Bank, Teklewold Atnafu, who was also attending the meeting.

Meanwhile he indicated to the participant that they are very much important to the country’s development as the remittance obtained from them has reached 1.8 billion USD last budget year.

One of the main objectives of today’s meeting was to get inputs for the ‘diaspora policy’, which is being prepared by the Ministry of Foreign affairs. Meanwhile, due to too many questions raised by the participants, it is postponed to another meeting.

According to the organizers of the meeting, to consult with Ethiopian diaspora, a delegation from the ministry which travel to major destinations of Ethiopians, such as U.S.A., Europe, Canada, South Africa and the like.

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