The Ministry of Industry is engaged in quarrel with a consultant over the ownership of a study conducted for the formation of a public institution that imports and supplies industrial raw materials.
Belayneh Begajo, an economist and managing director of BizInfo Consultancy, has filed his complaints to the speaker of parliament in order to solicit an intervention. He also submitted his claims to the Office of the Prime Minister, asserting that the Ministry of Industry has established the Ethiopian Industrial Input Development Enterprise based on his proposal without giving him a proper recognition and reward.
The dispute between the two was started when the government established the Enterprise in December 2014. The government introduced the four-billion Birr enterprise for the supply and manufacture of raw material inputs to rescue the manufacturing sector that was suffering from a shortage.
Belayneh claims that he proposed the establishment of the intermediary public enterprise to supply quality industrial supplies to the ministry back in October 2012 by submitting the copy of the proposal to nine government institutions, including Ethiopian Investment Commission and the new Ministry of Finance.
“The committee formed in the Ministry of Industry has taken the proposal as their research finding without my permission and without awarding recognition,” reads Belayneh’s complaint submitted to parliament.
He initially filed his complaints to the then Minister of Industry who forwarded the case to its legal department.
Yet the ministry refused to answer in written form, according to the Belayneh.
In 2015 the consultant presented his grievance in written form to the Office of the Prime Minister and then submitted the case to the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office. The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office in their written letter informed the claimant to take the case to court, stating the issue is not under its mandate.
“Our office is mandated to register, document and provide the documents when parties request evidence,” Biruk Workineh, public relations director of the office, told Fortune. “The office can do nothing for properties that aren’t registered.”
“I have a firm stand not to go to the court as the court will side with one of the two extremes,” Belayneh told Fortune. “I chose the pacifist way of solving the case as I initially completed the proposal in good faith.”
The Ministry of Industry wrote to the claimant that there was no finding or trace of the existence of such a proposal from June 2016.
“No evidence supports the formation of the enterprise based your proposal,” reads the letter from the Ministry.
A month ago, he wrote a letter to the house speaker and the Office of the Prime Minister, requesting the house form an independent committee that will investigate the case and make the final determination.
Misrak Mekonnen (PhD), head of the Office of Parliament, states that the letter has not been brought to her attention.
The Ministry of Industry is also unaware of the recent development on the matter, according to Assefa Tesfaye, public relations director at the Ministry of Industry.
The claim of the ownership by the claimant needs concrete and tangible evidence, according to experts.
“The issue of intellectual property rights is a bit complicated,” said Fekadu Asfaw, a legal expert and consultant. “One should be able to substantiate the evidence to reclaim ownership.”
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