Tension rises as Tigray accuses Central gov’t of holding up funds
The Tigray National Regional State has accused the federal government of holding up 285 million Birr for the regional safety net program. The fund was expected to be disbursed as of October to be used for the coming three months. However, the federal government has suspended the money despite outcry from the regional state.
The regional communication office, in its latest statement issued on Thursday, October 23, 2020 titled “Both the people of Tigray and the regional government will not succumb to any measure by the dictatorial and unitary group,” also accused the federal government of travel restrictions on two Chinese designers who were going to engage in the construction of a water project in Mekelle City. The regional government described the decision as a brutal move to deprive residents of Mekelle city off clean water.
According to the statement, such repetitive measures are forcing the people of Tigray to draw themselves out of the Ethiopian federal structure. The regional state then called upon the international community to understand the current affairs and take all the necessary measures.
Approached by The Reporter regarding the suspension of the safety net money, Haji Ibsa, Director of Information and Communication of the Ministry of Finance, downplayed the claim.
He said, “There is nothing officially suspended. What we are now trying to do is changing the channel. The money will be disbursed to Weredas, Kebeles and Zonal administrations. Except for our effort to crosscheck whether or not the money is utilized for the intended purpose, there is no change.”
Even though the director downplayed the claim made by the regional state, a Ministry of Finance letter dated October 20, 2020 circulating on social media shows that the Tigray Regional State is not among the list of regional states to receive finances for safety net from the Ministry.
It is to be recalled, the House of Federation (HoF) decided that the federal government should sever its relationship with the Tigray regional state assembly and the region’s highest executive body.
The HoF statement also noted that the federal government would continue to work with local institutions in Tigray to provide “basic services” to the region, meaning the decision did not amount to a complete severing of ties.