The Unsaid at the Premier’s Address

Watching the Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegne’s address last week, it was not about what he said but what he failed to say that I found striking.

While he asserted that peace and tranquility are back under normal situations, he could not say the same about the foreign currency earnings. He attributed the cause to be the decline in prices of the export items in the global market.

He cited the double-digit annual development growth rate. But he did not mention how the trade balance fares with respect to Ethiopia’s export dealings with the big economies such as China or some Middle Eastern countries, which are the importers of the livestock from the Afar Regional State and coffee from Harar.

However, the Prime Minister did not deny the fact that the foreign currency reserves, whether as a result of a globally declining economy or some mystical routes of currency flight to the coffers of other banks in the world, there was indeed a shortage. He tried to soothe his people by mentioning that other countries have exported their citizens’ hair.

This part of his comparison could at best fetch him some thoughts from comedians already busy cracking jokes and enjoying it. Of course, he skipped the fact that the settings are different. We may see the consequences for up to two decades. He has already ceased to talk about his dreams to have the country categorized in the middle-income group within the next 10-20 years.

The Prime Minister realizes transformation is a concept of turning the agrarian economy to one that is industrial. Even if it is in the form of a collection of interdependent small scale or large scale industries using the inputs from agriculture.

These industries or manufacturing plants ought to be basically an import substitution and ought to have marketable goods on their shelves. The new policy of developing industrial parks is a noble idea but should be based on the potential of people with manufacturing background and talent who are preoccupied with cracking jokes in prose and poetry.

Apparently prepared ahead of the session judging by the structure, some parliamentarians posed a few queries. First, they have to follow the routines of appreciations, to be followed by the question “What plans do you have next?”

The other strange thing about his reports of assessment was the foregone conclusion to reduce the humanitarian issue as some “discrepancies here and there.”

He could not deny facts even if he had to tell part of the truth.

Hailemariam complained that the country was facing a shortage of foreign currency. He blamed the fall in world market price for our export primary goods. He did not mention anything about the total amount of foreign support in dollars the country is getting annually and where it disappeared.

He paid gratitude to the security forces without mentioning how many lives were lost to bring success to their mission. He, as head of the ruling party, of the coalition of the four parties, did not pay tribute to those who have lost their loved ones. What a disappointment for the occupier of the dignified post in the palace.

His assessment of peace coming back to normalcy was reported at a time where bombs were thrown at hotels by an unknown criminal as if to prove the Prime Minister wrong. When shall we acknowledge the actual situations causing our grief?

By Girma Feyissa

Published on Jan 24,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 873]



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