One-time preacher and another time a motivational speaker, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) appeared to be a lecturer, a diplomat as well as an assertive politician while talking to the local business people gathered at the luxuries Sheraton Addis Hotel, this week.
On a busy schedule packed with daily meetings since his inauguration, Abiy dedicated his two and half hours on Monday, April 16, 2018 to deliberate on different issues concerning the business community.
During the meeting at the Sheraton, Abiy mainly spoke on different business, economic, political and administrative issues with a special focus on foreign currency shortage the country faces and corruption.
“We are a developmental state and what makes a developmental state different from other forms of government is the selection of its soldiers. It is impossible to bring about a sustainable victory with borrowed soldiers,” Abiy emphasized. “We know that we won’t go anywhere if we don’t train and use you for the goals we target; what you need to do is identify yourself either as a borrowed soldier or our own soldier.”
The business community that presented its issues through Melaku Azezew (Eng.) and other individuals, who got the chance to ask the Prime Minister, raised the issue of foreign exchange problems in the country which has reached a concerning level. That even the country is struggling to buy insulin for diabetic people.
Deliberating on the issue of Forex, the Prime Minister forecasted that the country’s Forex won’t be solved for the coming 15 to 20 years.
“It is not something we can fix that quickly; this will not even be solved over the period of the next GTP,” he told the gathering.
According to Abiy, the campaign by the Diaspora not to send money to Ethiopia and the black market coupled with frequent foreign travels by officials are the main factors behind the foreign currency shortages in the country. He said that this is apart from the dwindling of export revenues over the past years.
One of the participants in the meeting stated that the actual foreign currency demand of the country is USD 15 billion while the country only manages to provide USD 6.4 billion.
“We are among few African countries that have a huge number of migrants, but ironically, our remittance is much smaller than other African countries,” Abiy said. “Stopping remittance by the diaspora is not the proper way to punish the government. We don’t punish children by denying them their dinners.”
Abiy also stressed that the black market will not be tolerated anymore and he claimed that operators of the black market might have much foreign currency available than state owned banks.
“The black market is another area of focus. If some of you are players in the black market, you better collect your hands,” Abiy warned the gathering.
He also called upon them to bring back their money they deposited in China and Dubai.
“We will one day reach the level we can negotiate with foreign countries to bring such deposits as China does. We won’t tolerate people stealing from us and depositing it somewhere else,” he cautioned.
Abiy was also vocal while talking about corruption. He referred to corrupts as thieves. He also urged that public officials are there to serve the public and if he/she wishes to make wealth, they should leave their posts and change their role.
“Thieves won’t get satisfied. They will eat you up when you have nothing to give,” he said.
He also called upon the gathering to practice saving resources and he committed himself to reduce wastage at government institution level.
“I will work seven days a week. You should also work seven days a week, and you will see the change within two to three years,” Abiy motivated the crowd.