In a bold challenge to the government’s financial practices, a Member of Parliament has demanded answers from the finance minister regarding the sources of funding for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s costly megaprojects.
The MP has emphasized Parliament’s role in approving budgets and overseeing allocations for large-scale initiatives like the ongoing construction of a palace worth over half a trillion birr on the mountain of Addis.
Since taking office, Abiy has launched numerous ambitious megaprojects worth billions of dollars, but the lack of transparency surrounding their financing has raised concerns among lawmakers and the public.
Despite criticism, the Prime Minister has defended his approach, even challenging MPs who questioned the source of funds for his projects.
Seid Mohammed, a member of the Prosperity Party (PP) from Dessie, has put the finance minister on the spot, questioning the funding sources for the government’s expensive megaprojects.
Speaking out during the parliament session held to deliberate on next year’s budget, the MP argued that budget approval should be the sole responsibility of lawmakers, who should also be able to examine performance and budget allocations for such initiatives.
Noting that many people are being forced from their homes and into poverty due to the rising cost of living, Seid expressed concerns that the government’s megaprojects prioritize those who are financially better off.
While I acknowledge the importance of these initiatives in light of the country’s critical circumstances, I believe that the government is not doing enough to address poverty reduction, he said.
With Ethiopia facing multiple crises, including the economic fallout from the war in North Ethiopia, the government’s spending priorities are under intense scrutiny. Critics have accused Prime Minister Abiy of prioritizing lavish projects like resorts, parks, and palaces over the needs of ordinary Ethiopians struggling in difficult circumstances.
Last year, when parliamentarians raised similar questions about the funding sources for these initiatives, Abiy responded that the projects were being financed by his personal drive and were beyond the purview of Parliament to scrutinize budgets they did not authorize.
Finance Minister Ahmed Shide has also faced criticism for failing to provide clear answers to questions about the funding of the megaprojects.
While he has acknowledged that the budget must be authorized and approved by the legislature, the Minister also stated that some specific initiatives may be carried out in line with resource mobilization plans developed by public enterprises.
“The most important thing is the budget, which must be authorized and approved by the legislature,” Ahmed concluded. “However, projects built by public enterprises are done by the institutions themselves via their board.”