Reporting format blends national industry targets with party plans
Members of parliament rejected the performance report of the Ministry of Industry. The industrial and mining development affairs standing committee of the Parliament ostracized the report content-wise and also for failing to fulfill the national reporting format.
The Minister of Industry, Melaku Allebel, and Amarech Bekalo (PhD), chair of the committee, locked horns during the back and forth that took the whole day on November 3, 2022. Respective senior staffs also joined hands to support their respective sides of the argument.
Despite the verbal sparring, the session turned the House rather into a lively platform.
Amarech was vehement, especially after finding out the report submitted and presented by the minister did not indicate the challenges industries are facing or the policy measures required to straighten the bottlenecks.
“We found out there are many bottlenecks hindering the industry sector during previous reports. But this report does not say whether those bottlenecks were solved or not. The ministry might be doing many things, but this report does not show the details of the issues happening in the sector,” Amarech said.
The report, according to her, does not inform the House on the details of the issues. “For instance, during the last year’s report, the ministry told this committee that 400 industries had stopped production due to various problems. But this report does not indicate whether they are closed, sold, or back in business currently.”
Amarech also listed many problems regarding industrial parks, input linkages, import substitution, and the leather sector, among others, which she said the report failed to address.
“Many industrial parks remain unoccupied. But the ministry is talking about requests for regional states to install new industrial parks. Why should all regional states have industrial parks,” she asked.
She also stressed that the committee sent questions to the ministry to respond to specific questions regarding the industry sector, but the report failed to capture the issues the committee wanted to know.
“We want these detailed issues to help us understand the actual status of the sector and to use it as input for policymaking and other measurements. But what we believe is that the ministry presented another report. It is not an answer to our previous requests,” Amarech explained.
The standing committee also found out that the reporting format of the ministry does not meet the national performance reporting standard used by Parliament. The chair criticized the report for not sticking to key performance indicators and failing to depict what is actually going on except in generalized descriptions.
Melaku, irritated and helpless, repeatedly tried to interrupt the chair and assert his rationale.
“If there is a thirst for information and knowledge about the sector, we can bring a more detailed report. The standing committee can also come to our ministry and take documents on everything we are doing,” Melaku said.
At this point, Amarech fired back, saying such a response was not expected of him. “We respect your institution. You should respect our institution in return. We have no personal interests here.”
Regarding the flaw in the reporting format, Melaku stated he used the reporting format and industry targets set by the Prosperity Party office, the Ministry of Planning and Development, and the Parliament itself.
However, Amarech says there cannot be two reporting mechanisms in a country.
After hours of the heated arguments, the minister retreated, saying, “It is not appropriate to throw heated words at each other. So this should stop. I do not think we are on the same page. We did the job. But there is miscommunication. I am proud of my ministry, my management, and my employees.”
Finally, the intense session was over, with directions from the standing committee to bring a revised report and discuss the major issues on other platforms.