The appointment of a couple of dozens state ministers…

The administration of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has rolled out the appointment of a couple of dozens state ministers at the beginning of last week, gossip disclosed. Some of them have four, such as in the case of the new Ministry of State Enterprises. Others have three, as in the instance of the foreign affairs office, while a few, such as the Communications Affairs Office, hold two state ministers.

Against tradition, though, the government has opted to continue appointments undisclosed to the larger public, gossip noticed. It has just distributed the long list of state ministers to the offices it deemed should know about it. This has not boded well among some of the appointed state ministers, who may have felt let down by the lack of publicity surrounding their appointments, gossip observed.

One such disappointed appointee could be Gebremesqel Chala, who was Director General of Micro & Small Enterprises Agency up until his promotion last week to the office of a State Minister for Urban Development & Housing, gossip claims. He has received an unceremonious start, subsequently having to tussle with the state Amharic daily Addis Zemen over what he believes to be the character of the media as a cheerleader, an assault the newspaper’s editors felt worthy of reference in their front page. Last week, he was heard demanding that donors address him as “His Excellency” while opening a workshop organised by the World Bank, among others, claims gossip.

The presenters should have little uncertainty that he was one of the no less than 80 state ministers Hailemariam’s administration has chosen to serve under one of the largest cabinets since the rise to power of the Revolutionary Democrats, gossip observed. Yet, the downside of having a bloated administration is the recurring cost to the public coffers; the signs have already begun to surface, claims gossip.

Consider, for example, the Minister of State Enterprises, Demitu Hambissa. She seemed to have found the first order of business to dislodge Beyene Gebremesqel, former Director General of the Privatization & Public Enterprises, from his office located behind Yidenekachew Tessema Stadium, and replace all the office furniture with brand new purchases, gossip revealed. Now appointed as one of the four state ministers to serve under Demitu, Beyene had to get temporary accommodation in the office of one of his deputies, claims gossip.

The mood at the Ministry is now that of an executive bonanza, after the Minister instructed part of the work force to relocate itself to a federally owned building somewhere in Gerji area, moving out of a building rented from an individual developer on Africa Avenue (Bole Road), gossip observed. The trouble with such an unexpected move, according to gossip, is that the rent will be double what the Agency is paying – close to 200,000 Birr – for a three-floor office on Africa Avenue, and the millions of Birr it had paid barely two years ago – for office partitions – will go down the drain.

Demitu’s Ministry is also contemplating a procurement order of close to 30 four-wheel drive vehicles, a considerable number of which will include the V8 Toyota brand now synonymous with Ethiopia’s officialdom and their lifestyle, claims gossip. Not to be spared in all this is Abay Woldu, president of Tigray Regional State, who has chosen to use a domestically assembled SUV, “Bishoftu”, for his transport, according to gossip.

The eventual glitch to the desire of purchasing all these vehicles is just obvious, gossip sees. The price to pay for one third of them eats up the total budget (28.4 million Br), earmarked for the now defunct privatisation and public enterprise agency, claims gossip. The cost to taxpayers of the planned budget of the Ministry of State Enterprises may have reached close to 300 million Br, gossip disclosed. Ironically, this Ministry was nowhere in existence when the federal budget for 2015/16 was approved by Parliament in July 2015. It ought to have been a disappointing turn of events for Demitu’s people at the Ministry, to have their request to the Ministry of Finance & Economic Cooperation (MoFEC) for additional budget rejected flat last week, gossip disclosed.

Published on Oct 26,2015 [ Vol 16 ,No 808]



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