Addis Ababa: During the 14th regular session of the House of People's Representatives (HPR) conducted today, the premier responded to queries from members of parliament (MPs) relating performance of federal government in this Ethiopian fiscal year.
Peace and National Security
The prime Minister emphasized that issues related to peace and national security of the country emanate from wrong approach to fulfill political objectives, lack of practices in resolving political problems through discussions but raising arms to bring political solutions.
The premier told members of parliament (MPs) that he had the chance to discuss with various sectors of the population in Amhara regional state before some years and mentioned that the demands raised by the region focused on development needs, amendment of the constitution and settling disputes of boundary areas with neighboring states.
Over the last five years, 53 road projects were designed in the state, of which 1,300 kms were completed, citing the 2.4 billion birr worth asphalt road under construction on Abay Bridge.
Regarding demands to ammendment of the constitutional, the government has established inclusive national dialogue commission to incorporate all issues across the nation and reach national consensus. To this end, the government has established National Dialogue Commission.
The premier also cited the peace talks held with Shene in Tanzania with a view to bringing lasting peace but did not bring about the intended result.
Overall, the rejection of peaceful options by armed groups in the country has caused conflict and displacements, he noted. He stressed the need for exercising democratic principles and putting in place appropriate institutions to consolidate the supremacy of ideas and peaceful transition in the country.
The government is ready for peace talks with forces who wish to build their country and continue their political objectives in a peaceful manner. However, he assured MPs that the government continues ensuring rule of law by taking measure against those forces who attempt to seize power through the barrel of gun.
Fruitful Efforts in Tigray
The federal government has undertaken several fruitful activities in improving transportation, telecom, bank services, and agriculture, among others, after the signing of the Pretoria agreement, the premier recalled.
He revealed that over half billion Birr expenditure was made for the resumption of the air transport to Shire, Mekele and soon to Axum, which is currently under maintenance.
The air transport has at least helped people with chronic diseases to fly to Addis and get medical treatment, he added.
Ethio telecom has maintained over 1000 kms of optical fiber and 475 mobile sites while repairing over 20,000 landline telephones and started 4G service with hundreds of thousands of Birr in four cities of the region.
As a result, the people of Tigray are now able to get the services of telecom and electricity through the joint collaboration of the federal government and the interim regional administration.
The National Bank Ethiopian has also provided 10 billion Birr liquidity and some 600 bank branches are open, he said.
Furthermore, he noted that some 217 factories have started operation following the Pretoria agreement, even if they still seek support.
Through a special procurement, the federal government has imported 500 tractors and over 300 pumps to improve agriculture in Tigray, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told MPs.
According to him, about 630,000 hectares of land was cultivated in the region last Ethiopian year with the agricultural inputs support such as tractors, special seed, fertilizer and pumps provided by Ministry of Agriculture and regional states.
Foreign Relations and Diplomacy
The Prime Minister highlighted the major achievements in the sphere of foreign relations and diplomacy, mentioning Ethiopia's full membership to BRICS.
The country is connected in power grid with Kenya and efforts are well underway to do the same with Tanzania, he said.
Highlighting Ethiopia's relations with Somalia, the premier emphasized that Ethiopia has paid dearly by sacrificing thousands of its daughters and sons to defend the unity, peace and sovereignty of Somalia and will continue to pursue policy of cooperation and friendship with the country.
'The people of Ethiopia and Somalia are bound by blood. Many Ethiopians have died for the peace of Somalia. (And) no country has paid as much as Ethiopia for the peace of Somalia,' PM Abiy underscored.
Therefore, Ethiopia has no intention of destabilizing Somalia and transgressing the sovereignty of Somalia.
He recalled that Ethiopia has never invaded a country in its history. In spite of this, some quarters are trying to incite conflict between the two nations, which should not happen, Abiy underlined.
'Ethiopia's quest for access to sea is based on mutual benefit. This is useful not only for Ethiopia but also for regional cooperation," the premier reiterated.
Moreover, 'Somalis are our brothers, and we will grow together.'
He pointed out that Ethiopia has recently trained Somali military recruits at the Hurso Training Center, and this shows that we do not have any intention to get into conflict with Somalia.
Prime Minister Abiy elaborated his country diplomacy is centered around its national interest, giving priority to relations with neighboring countries.
Regarding the trilateral negotiation on GERD, Abiy said Ethiopia is ready to listen to the demands of the brotherly people of Egypt and accordingly address the issues to the best of Ethiopia's ability. He also urged Egypt to reciprocate Ethiopia's demands.
The information which claims that Ethiopia's filling of the GERD will cause the Aswan Dam's water volume to decrease has been practically disproved, Abiy noted.
The GERD has proved the fact that there will be no significant damage to the lower riparian countries.
With regard to tax collection, the revenue collected in the first six months of the fiscal year amounted to 265 billion birr, achieving 98 percent of 270 billion birr target. This represents a 17 percent increase when compared to the same period last year.
He acknowledged the need for further improvement, citing the experience of countries like Morocco and neighboring nations that collect higher percentages of their tax-to-GDP ratio
He further underscored the significance of tax collection for promoting adequate development in the country, calling for necessary reforms to increase the tax revenue.
Speaking about export and import trends, he stated that the country earned 10.7 billion USD. from goods and services, with an earning of 4.5 billion in the first half of this year.
In terms of import, Ethiopia imported goods worth 17 billion USD last year, while this year's import amounted to 7.5 USD in the first five months.
Inflation is a result of various economic challenges, primarily stemming from insufficient domestic production, he said, noting a slight decrease in inflation from 30 to 28 percent this year.
The government's strategy to combat inflation involves boosting production, he stated, adding that successful outcomes have been registered in wheat and rice harvesting.
The premier pointed out the significant reduction in spending on wheat by saving over 700 billion Birr annually.
The government has not taken commercial loan during the past five years, the premier recalled, adding the nation has paid 9.9 billion USD debts in the stated period.
Source: Ethiopian News Agency