Monday morning I went to the University lounge for my breakfast and I read a short notice which says “ በዘይት እጥርት ምክንያት ቁርስ አለመሩን እናሳውቃለን”. I did not have my dinner either for the same reason – scarcity of oil. “Had we punished the hoarders of basic food items since the eve of the Ethiopian millennium we wouldn’t have to face the current crisis.” Says one of my friend then derisive laughs follows from people who were jostling to get in to the queue to acquire a loaf of bread with a tea.
I should remind you that this drama is an epic narrative which begun with green pepper (remember አልጫው ሚሊኒየም), table salt, sugar and you name it, and then now is the turn is for oil. Let alone economists a layman like myself now can understand that this is a clear mismanagement of the policy makers who are operating the public policy with their own interest. I do not believe that the recent price hike of petrol did affect this jump in prices; neither the global food price inflation as reported by government media and its sympathizers contribute a lot for the hike of the price of oil.
Instead of searching for genuine and sound economic solutions, to our misery the blame game continues. Government officials are never tired of admitting that this crisis is illegal and artificial, and they are trying to be too clever by putting the blame on the ‘middlemen’ or hoarders,(ስግብግብ ነጋዴዎች) while asking the public to find them and take action against them. This shows to what extent our government can go to just to play politics. Because no matter what, the parliament will keep on deciding on fixing prices on commodities the government will present their unavoidable reasoning, cadres may keep on putting on an alert the hoarders’ act if the stocks are not released. The reality remains that except the hoarders, millers and related officials responsible for this extortion; we are the ones suffering due to the shortage of a basic daily usage commodity in an agricultural country.
It becomes evident that this government does not realize that because of its unprofessional skills and lack of control, the gap between the few middle class and the majority lower class is widening, as the lower class heads towards the poverty line. The inflation in Ethiopia is grave and the situation is getting worse each day. But without any remorse, the government approves the Great Millennium Dam making it an Easter gift to the impoverished people. Another price hike is already on its way very soon.
Very soon the price hikes, shortages and inflation will start to show repairable damage. I am tired, maybe some of aren’t, but the question is: Are you prepared to face more? If no, then what are the options available for a solution to stop this once and for all?