Fine Line: The Prime Minister made a brief remark on the reason of his unexpected presence …




On the lighter side of things, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has had a surprise visit to an upscale high school in Addis Abeba last week, where he addressed students and their parents not as the top most senior government official of the country. He was there at the International Community School (ICS) as “a proud father and a parent”, gossip disclosed.

The youngest of his three daughters goes to ICS, an American school and known to be the most expensive in the capital, claims gossip. It is to this school many of the highly paid diplomats and international expatriates residing in Addis Abeba send their children for quality education, according to gossip. With close to 40,000 dollars annual tuition fee, those who belong to the “moneyed power club” in the capital do also enrol their children at the American school, claims gossip.

Understandably, many would wonder how a Prime Minister of a poor nation such as Ethiopia, whose gross salary is 8,000 Br – 20pc higher than his predecessor – can afford to send his rather bright daughter to such a school, gossip observed.

Indeed, she had won a scholarship given by the school’s administration to Ethiopian students, a practise common among such elite schools such as Sanford and Lycee, claims gossip. Interestingly, she won such a prestigious and fully paid scholarship three years ago, long before her father had the prospect of becoming Ethiopia’s Prime Minister in anyone’s mind, gossip disclosed. Two of Hailemariam’s daughters are studying engineering and medicine, gossip revealed.

At ICS on May 23, 2014, the Prime Minister made a brief remark on the reason of his unexpected presence, and upon request from his daughter, he handed over the certificate to her, gossip disclosed. Other parents felt, it would have been gracious of him had he done the same for other students, claims gossip.

On the more serious note though, Hailemariam’s administration is overseeing an economy bleeding from an illegal flight of capital amounting to close to 12 billion dollars in a decade beginning 2000, disclosed Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a research and advocacy group based in Washington D.C.

It is an organization which believes “corruption, kickbacks and bribery” are on the rise in Ethiopia. Recently though, its leaders have asked the government of Ethiopia to take stock of this unrecorded outflow of foreign exchange, according to gossip. UN experts believe that the amount fleeing Ethiopia, which is close to equal to what it has earned from its exports of two quarters in 2013/14, is caused largely (70pc) due to trade mispricing, claims gossip.

GFI, an organization whose expertise on illicit flow of money is acknowledged by many governments across the world, appears to be driven by reluctance of Ethiopian authorities to accept the amount stated as an accurate loss to the nation, gossip claims. Yet the administration of Hailemariam has yet to respond to the request GFI made, reinforcing the views that indeed the Ethiopian government has issues on the reported amount of illicit money flows out of the country, whether the report comes from GFI or the UN, says gossip.



Published on June 1, 2014 [ Vol 15 ,No 735]


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