The Minister of Finance & Economic…

The Minister of Finance & Economic Development (MoFED), Sufian Ahmed, addressed MPs last week, presenting the administration’s most important bill of the year, the budget. Ever expanding from year to year, the new budget bill consists of the largest ever federal spending. Inching ever closer to the 10 billion dollar mark – double to what it was five years ago – the latest budget demonstrates the administration’s policy of continued fiscal expansion, with all its risk of instability in the economy, gossip observed.

Yet, this is taking place in a climate of uncertainty and continued confusion on who in the government actually calls the shots when it comes to major macroeconomic policy decisions, claims gossip.

Nowhere in the administration could this be displayed more clearly than in the Ministry under the stewardship of Sufian himself, claims gossip. Besieged by high turnover of staff – a development that characterises many of the public institutions of late – the frustration among the staff of the Ministry due to the lack of focused macroeconomic management is evident, claims gossip.

The MoFED is a place no different in this respect, gossip claims. Instructed from the higher-ups to focus on developing the second generation edition of the Growth of Transformation Plan, or GTP-2, and with measured support from international finance institutions, experts at the MoFED appear to be confused about the direction the policy should go in, gossip observed.

Here too, the loss of leadership is evident, claims gossip.

Instructions are flowing from the MoFED’s planning division as much as they come from the National Planning Commission – an outfit presided over by Mekonnen Manyazewal, which itself branched off from the Ministry, gossip disclosed. The two federal institutions are hardly alone in competing for space, attention and dominance; Neway Gebreab’s Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI) and every other ministry with the right to vote in the cabinet veer for influence, claims gossip.

Partly, gossip sees this as a symptom of a government under a ruling party that has lost two of its most crucial leverages since the death of its long time leader, Meles Zenawi. The EPRDFites have yet to regain the organisational coherence and strongman as their chief priest. This is required should they ever need to reassert control over the rank and file, within which there is developing internal rivalry and mutual disdain, according to gossip.

Published on June 15, 2014 [ Vol 15 ,No 737]



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