Meles Zenawi’s anti-inflation measure: More arrest

Woyanne’s solution for every thing is the barrel of the gun.

By Peter Heinlein, VOA

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Ethiopia’s Prime Minister dictator Meles Zenawi has introduced tough measures to stabilize soaring prices, including a crackdown on what he called “economic criminals,” but he says the African nation’s economy is essentially sound. From Addis Ababa, VOA’s Peter Heinlein reports opposition leaders ridiculed the claim of economic health in a country facing drought and a massive financial scandal.

Meles Tuesday declared war on what he referred to as greedy business people, blaming them for sharp price increases that boosted Ethiopia’s inflation rate to 20 percent. In a speech to parliament, he lashed out at what he called “fraudsters” who recently caused a five to 10-fold increase in the price of salt in a single day.

Meles announced establishment of a task force to prosecute businesses engaging in what he called “persistent illegal exploitative activities.”

“Such greedy and illegal business persons will only respond when each has been identified and punished,” he said. “As a result, the government has decided to completely change its approach toward those committing economic crimes. A task force comprising members of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the federal police and the National Security and Intelligence service has been set up to permanently monitor illicit activities and take prompt legal measures as necessary.”

Meles urged all citizens to cooperate by providing information about those engaging in price gouging.

Meles also announced two other inflation fighting measures; an immediate end to sales taxes on food grains, and sharp restrictions on the growth of the money supply.

At the same time, he described Ethiopia’s economy as “healthy.” He predicted the country’s economic growth rate would top 10 percent for the fifth year in a row.

Opposition leaders questioned the claim of economic health. Lawmaker Temesgen Zewdie pointed to recent reports that nine million Ethiopians are facing drought-induced famine. He called Meles’s response “unacceptable.”

Lidetu Ayelew of the Ethiopian Democratic Party called the report of 10 percent economic growth misleading because the growth does not touch millions of impoverished people.

“There are people who are being left behind. So there’s a problem with distribution, of reaching everyone,” Lidetu said. “Therefore, the economy is not fully healthy. So someone with high blood pressure cannot be seen as fully healthy. He can fall… So if this problem is not resolved, we cannot say the economy is healthy.”

Meles shrugged off the criticisms. In his rebuttal likened Ethiopia’s economic condition to a common cold. But he acknowledged several setbacks, including a recent discovery that a significant portion of the country’s gold reserves was fake, and the arrest of several people allegedly involved in a black market money-changing scheme.

15 comments on “Meles Zenawi’s anti-inflation measure: More arrest

  1. Guest1 on

    Meles says:

    “At the same time, he described Ethiopia’s economy as “healthy.” He predicted the country’s economic growth rate would top 10 percent for the fifth year in a row.”

    Meles can talk, it is his job but what is the opposition in parliament doing? Instead of tackling the 10% fake growth rate, Temesgen raises the UN report on famine.

    “Lawmaker Temesgen Zewdie pointed to recent reports that nine million Ethiopians are facing drought-induced famine. He called Meles’s response “unacceptable.”

    What about lidetu? Like Temesgen instead of tackling the 10% growth rate, he talks about the impoverished millions.

    “Lidetu Ayelew of the Ethiopian Democratic Party called the report of 10 percent economic growth misleading because the growth does not touch millions of impoverished people.”

    He adds, talking like Meles

    “There are people who are being left behind. So there’s a problem with distribution, of reaching everyone,” Lidetu said. “Therefore, the economy is not fully healthy. So someone with high blood pressure cannot be seen as fully healthy. He can fall… So if this problem is not resolved, we cannot say the economy is healthy.”

    Economic growth = fair income distribution = full health= is not equal to blood pressure= prospensity to fall. Hotch potch!

    They did not do their job!! They should have asked where the 10% economic growth is and show that it is manipulated and false statistics. They should have done their own homework! – bring their own statistics on economic growth by city or regional distribution if need be and by sector too – show where we are today and explain what economic growth is in today’s world and where we stand. What do they do in parliament? – warm seats?

    “Meles shrugged off the criticisms. In his rebuttal likened Ethiopia’s economic condition to a common cold.”

    Typical! Amusing!

  2. yigermal on

    The government is confused. Of course, few and the privileged are those benefiting from the current situation, but the people of Ethiopia are suffering. The economy is out of hand.

    “yechenekew erguz yagebal, yebasebet mechat”

    yilal yagerie sew !!!

    thank you


  3. Tsega on

    I thought in a free market economy (like Ethiopia, as we are told), businesses can charge prices that they deemed appropriate. In a free market, the government does not control prices and arrest business owners for charging high prices. I can guess some might dispute my statement but it is a true statement. If you look at economic blunders and financial crises, it is government reaction and, at times, overreaction that make things worse.

    I found Lidetu’s statements interesting. He said “the economy is not fully healthy.” In a country where 90% of the population live under poverty, Lidetu seems to agree that the economy is healthy but only slightly less than 100% healthy. WOW! Even the Federal Reserve Bank in the U.S. does not talk about the U.S. economy in such terms. The Fed has never said the economy is healthy but “not fully”. I think by Meles and Lidetu assertions, our economy is way better that the U.S. Thank you, Melese and Lidetu for elevating our economy to a near “full health” status. If only some business, like salt vendors, did not exploit our consumers, our economy would be “fully healthy”!!!

  4. Bwendimu on

    I was there. I saw the ‘peaceful struggle’ of the so called Addis Abeba merchants who without shame sale to the people one kilo meat for 55.00 birr in Piazza. I saw merchants who sale a cup of coffee for 3.00 birr for workers who earn only 500.00 a month. The underground conspiracy of the so called ‘opposition’ shifted to berber and salt aiming directly the poor so that they may blame the government. This economic conspiracy must stop by any means. It is directed to the people so that they blame the state for some thing artificially done.
    If government just look to these criminals they bring down the government without firing a shot. America is suffering because the government just looked the other side when corrupt business men over inflated the price of houses and gave loans to those who can not pay. Now, the whole world is paying for the government mistake. Today without shame the federal reserve of united state bailed out all those criminals as to save America. Ethiopia must watch as a developing economy. Any one who knows what happened in Zimbabwe and South Africa when the whites attacked the economy will not hesitate to act in time. The enemy of Ethiopian growth are many. That country got enemies within and without. Must we support you guys when you attack our parents and our people? Never!
    Stop your “peaceful struggle” that aim at the pocket of the poor. Enough is enough! I am angry!

  5. Burt. on

    MZ, his wife and those around him are fully healthy.

    That’s the way they feel for now at least!

    Yilushin besemash gebeyam balwetash endemibalew mehonu neaw.

    How long you play this cruel game? Time will tell.

  6. Sabataa Dubbii on

    The country has not been producing anything except soldiers and fabricating wars and battles. Mengistu had rounded up millions of young women and men and sent them to fight in four major war fronts. Since 1991 Melese has been fighting with Eritrea and he had just opened two major war front in addition to the war the has been going on with The Oromo Liberation Front. There might be another new front in the north eastern part of the nation. Every thing including human labor goes to the wars.

    He had a legacy of bankrupted economy and he has been using what has been produced to run war fronts, therefore there must be more than 20 % inflation. Melese’s government and his dictatorial policies are destined to fail; he is picking a wrong prescription for the economy that has been deadly sick since 1976.
    Melese and his parliament must come to their senses and stop all the wars and come to terms with reality of the country. They cannot be black ”Israel” and if they think they must be kidding themselves. I remember in 1982 Israel went to fight in Lebanon and they could not stay in the war for more than three or four months. As recently as a year ago Israeli army ventured into Lebanon with their might and power they could not support the war for more than few months and they retreated immediately when they found out they could not face the enemy. The same might be true for the Ethiopian army in Ogden and Somalia.
    The Israeli has the back up of super powers and so much money from all over the world. Melese does not have such consistent and strong economic and financial supports. Guess what he has to buy his arms from
    foreign market to fight the wars; the Israeli produce and in fact sell to the whole world. I want Melese
    to stop his teen age fantasy to become like Israel; at least under his rule.

    Melese and his cohorts must know that they have big problems in the Eastern Fronts with The OLF, Ogden Liberation Front and Somalia resistance groups. Also they are keeping a big chunk of the army in the north as well as the western parts of Ethiopia. I could see where all the money and national products are sinking into. Melese tries to hide the reality but be today or tomorrow he will get swallowed as his predecessors Mengistu and Haile Selassie.

    If as they say it he is smart he has to immediately withdraw from Somalia and Ogaden and start negotiating with The Oromo Liberation Front and other opposition parties.

    Wars and killings are not what we need today in Ethiopia;
    there must be peace for the country to come out of inflation and build a sound economy to feed it exploding population. He is arresting wrong people for a major national problem. It is like Megistu Haile Mariam who ventured into Markato in 1977 and imprisoned general stores
    owners and summarily executed them for selling red peppers above a market price. It was fake then and what Meles has done is more demeaning. At least I believe Meles must be
    more intelligent than a high school drop out major. Meles get out of Somalia and start negotiating with the oppositions. Stop your roaming semi guerrilla army and create peace in the country so that we could build a future for our coming generation. I know you are better than this shifty games. Stop wars and stop fighting
    Proxy wars. The nation gains nothing and the losers are the people of the whole empire including merchants. Soon or later all cars will stop running in Addis for gas prices are up there in the world. Could you shield Ethiopia with a white lie?

  7. tazabi on

    Memhur watch what you are saying this is not Woyaneland (Ethiopia) or some African land this is America the beautifull wher anyone can say what he or she wants, the FBI is not like the woyane federal police that will violet indevedual right, ther is also a law in this land of ours that we call America you just don’t arrest anyone with out a court order, by the way you are the one who should be sent back and Hang from the tree like the old time in the Ethiopia no one should buy a bulet for you because you are an air head with no brain who thinks FBI can trow someone to be execute, check your head for miner defect don’t think like Woyane.

  8. Belete Lemma on

    The usual hoax of Meles Zenawi Is in place again.The mass murder has always been deceiving the Ethiopian people by presenting falce economic growth stastics.Where is the affulence? where is the growth While millions are suffering abject poverty? He is a well-known liar.He plays upon the minds of the poor people of Ethiopia until his d
    Anyhow,the current inflation indicates that there would be a change if people are determind to make it.

  9. alex on

    It is not an inflation matter. It is ruther part TPLF plan to compltely remove the people Gurage from there way of Survavival:Business. Hade it not been Gurages wise analysis of Business reflection TPLF could have been removed the Gurage people from the businees sector long a time ago.Gurages when they get money they will not run to Europe to seek poltical asylum as the TPLF businees man do. They w ruther invest in another business to sustain there income.A day after woyanees confiscation billons of dollar from Gurages the price of dollar raise again by Fourty cents.And it is widely told that those who have related with Meles ethnic group hade gott the right hand information and escape the confisication

  10. Assta B. Gettu on

    In a country such as Ethiopia whose economic growth has been announced at “10 percent for the fifth year in a row,” Ethiopians then could expect great prosperity under Meles regime if what Meles claims is true. If indeed some selfish Ethiopian business people are charging the poor Ethiopians more money on their products, and getting more profits on every item, then Meles is right such business people must be persecuted and sent to jail if it is proven they have committed such illegal activities. The point here, however, is who are the true cheaters, the merchants, the retailers, the hotel managers, the grain suppliers, the barbers, the tej-bet people, the prostitutes, the book sellers, the car dealers, the taxi drivers, and the salt suppliers? All these people, but the prostitutes, can cheat and if caught can be prosecuted; however a prostitute can charge her customer $10, $100, $1000 for a night, and no one is going to say she has been cheating; only the fool who goes to her and spends this much money for a pleasure that lasts less than an hour is the one who is responsible for his money, and especially for his health in this age of AIDS’ epidemics.

    To find out the real cheaters, Meles has appointed a task force such as the federal police, the Intelligence Service, and others. In reality we know the real cheaters who have been cheating the Ethiopian people for a number of years by selling Ethiopian land, gold, religious artifacts, and many other valuable commodities to the outside world, and these people are the Meles family and his political gangs. So the new task force appointed by Meles should have unlimited authority that examines the illegal activities of Meles Seitanawi and his political groups. Otherwise, the search to find out these criminals who cheat the Ethiopian people by charging them double on each item they bring to the market for sale will not be fair and complete. Of course, Meles may have told the new task force ahead of time never to follow after the criminal activities of his political supporters but only to go after his political opponents if they are still living there or have not already left the country.

    This is the dilemma the Ethiopian people are facing that they may never know who is really cheating them and who is truly impoverishing them all these years. They know they work hard but have never improved their lives and the lives of their children

    The farmers produce abundant crops every year; the teachers teach all seasons except for few vacations; the clergies serve the church every Sunday and every holy day; the factory workers produce a lot of quality products; the physicians work day and night to help their patients recover soon; and soldiers respect their superiors and do whatever mission they have been told to accomplish. Yet there is no complete satisfactions among all these hard working Ethiopians. What are the problems facing Ethiopia where people in some parts of the world are enjoying life or at least living better and longer?

    Some people say: “If the water is muddy at the source, the rest of the river will be muddy.” As the saying indicates, if the people at the top are corrupt, then the other business people will be corrupt, even the new task force that Meles has appointed could be a corrupt group. This corrupt task force may never catch or even search the Tigrigna speakers for criminal activities because these group of people are in power; it is their government that appointed the task force to spy on the Amharas, the Oromos, and on the other ethnic groups.

    The new task force is not going to spy on the clergy because the clergy are not business people or merchants; they are dedicated group of people who have been serving member of their Churches without any fixed salaries all these years, so the task force has no business to mess with them. The Ethiopian farmers are not used to price gouging on their produce; in fact, they are the ones who have been exploited by the Woyanne government, buying their produce at the lowest price and making a big profit for Meles and his family. The Ethiopian farmers pay taxes to their government every year, but most of them don’t have electricity, running water, modern transportation, and medical care. I’m sure, there are innocent business people in Ethiopia, but since they don’t speak Tigrigna, they will be a suspect for price gouging even if they have never charged extra money for the products they sell. The new task force is going to create more hatred and division among money other Ethiopians. I doubt this new task force will ever catch the real cheaters and perpetrators – Meles and his political groups.

  11. SANDRA on

    All you guys at ER are getting stranger by the day. At present there is a resurgence of inflation in every country, developing or developed alike. To critisize the government on inflation policy is one thing. But to accuse a government for every thing under the sun is very far fetched. It seems you are critisizing them if it rains or if it doesn’t rain alike. Pure propoganda is cheap. Now-a- days even people who hasn’t read a book in their life are politicians. Criteria: One who can insult the government more. Frankly I have descided to support this government than such illiterate-politicians. So I say to Meles, keep on pushing your policy. Forget the semi literate diaspora. May God condenm them to a life of permanent diaspora.

  12. Mesfine on

    Ethiopia’s inflation is supply-induced. There is severe shortage of supply of so many things in Ethiopia. Traders hoarding the meager supply itself implies the existence of supply shortage. Government agents inflated agricultural porduction surplus has come out to be false. Of course, there are “economic criminals” who want to profit at the expense of consumers in the world of shortage-economy. But the real solution lies in boosting supply, and there is no hoarding, marketing corruption, where the supply that parallels demand.

  13. Matti on

    It was night time robbery before but this time it is day time robbery! Oh poor people of Ethiopia when we thought Mengistu era was a gonner here comes another Mengistu except this one will exterminate all Ethiopians to please his handlers of the west!

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