Advisory Council Set up to Cure Economy

The council will meet the Prime Minister twice or thrice per year

The National Planning Commission is forming an economic advisory council that will regularly assess critical challenges in the economy and endorse policy amendments.

Formed under the Planning Commission, the advisory council will have a biannual or triannual meeting with the Prime Minister, to discuss its findings and to make recommendations.

“We are working on the terms of reference about the details of the advisory,” said Eyob Tekalegne, commissioner of the Planning Commission. “We expect to finalise it next week and present it to the prime minister for his approval.”

The term of reference includes addressing the size of membership, procedures for membership recruitment, general proceedings, tasks, scope and frequency of board meetings and meetings with the prime minister.

“We are in the process of recruiting candidates for membership of the council,” Eyob told Fortune.

Along with representatives of the businesses community, prominent and experienced economists will be recruited for membership on the council, according to Eyob.

In past years, the business community has been forwarding multiple issues as a challenge. Among these are a lack of access to land and financial resources; a weak tax administration system; and policies and regulations imposed by the government that have limited the ability of banks to give credit, according to a recent report presented by Melaku Ezezew, president of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Association, to the governor of the central bank.

The absence of alternative means of financing such as capital markets, the forex crunch and corruption in the allocation of credit and foreign currencies are additional bottlenecks in the business community cited by Melaku.

In addition to making recommendations concerning bottlenecks in the economy, the council will be tasked with analysing, criticising and evaluating policies that are deterrents for the private sector, according to Eyob.

This will be the third advisory council formed since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) came to power, which joins the advisory boards for the Diaspora Trust Fund and the new board set up for the privatisation process of state-owned enterprises.

A week ago Prime Minister Abiy formed a council to advise the Diaspora Trust Fund, created to fund development and social projects in Ethiopia. The board is expected to come up with a plan to ensure fund accountability, transparency, project selection criteria and the identification of practical ways to attract broad support among the diaspora.

Two weeks ago the second council, with a membership of 21, was introduced to provide technical advice to the government on the process of privatising state-owned enterprises such as Ethiopian Airlines, Ethio telecom, Ethiopian Electric Power and Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise.

This is an encouraging step of the government in taking bold actions to hear from the private sector and embracing its members in the process, according to Eyesuswork Zafu, a corporate business leader who believes that the private sector was neglected for years.

The private sector’s contribution to GDP stood at 41.1pc in the 2016/17 fiscal year, according to data from the Planning Commission.

“In the process, the council has to be based on real facts and figures, unlike the previous trend of using political figures,” Eyesuswork recommended.


Published on Aug 18,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 955]



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