Tax evasion

Two public prosecutors and two brokers along with a Chinese citizen were arrested by the federal police commission crime investigation office on July 18, 2017. The suspects were caught red handed around bole area while the two public prosecutors and brokers were receiving 5 million Ethiopian birr from the Chinese claiming they would get his tax evasion charges dropped.

The Chinese suspect Biyo Lee has already been charged with tax evasion crime and was ordered by the Federal high court to pay 11 million birr tax money he owes the government and another additional 5 million birr fine. Mr. Lee has paid the said amount of money. But then Mr. Lee was approached by the brokers and the public prosecutors claiming they would get the case closed if he’d pay them 5 million birr. Mr. Lee accepted their proposal and was caught red handed with the other suspects while giving the 5 million birr.

The federal police commission stated that the suspects are under investigation by the evidences gathered against them.

Source

Addis Ababa, (FBC) fana fm 98.1 news, July 19, 2017

Reforming civil society organizations in Ethiopia

The government seems to feel the urgency for reforming the CSOs. It was a known fact that the enactment of the Charities and Societies Proclamation brought a lot of controversy in the country. The Proclamation had raised alarm among CSOs working in the country and has been highly criticized by the international community. A number of international human rights-monitoring bodies have also expressed concerns about the impact of the Proclamation on the freedom of association in Ethiopia.

Despite the government insistence that the law aims at improving the status of CSOs, many believe that what drove the law is the political calculation of the ruling coalition mainly triggered by the 2005 election. It is argued that the Proclamation is a result of the hostile attitude that the Government of Ethiopia developed towards CSOs after the 2005 national elections. Among other things, the Ethiopian government accused the CSOs and NGOs in particular of political interference, lack of accountability, lack of constituency and dependence on foreign funding, and abuse and corruption.

After widespread protests, the government has admitted that corruption, maladministration, and discrimination are not resolved substantially. “These may create different kinds of contradictions. However, they can be resolved in a democratic way. When we resolve them without resorting to violence and conflict, they will serve as a springboard for a better growth and transformation.” Prime Minister HailemariamDessalegn said, on the media briefing he delivered on August 5, 2016. And following this many commentators argue for fundamental reform in today’s Ethiopia if the country’s emerging democracy and the extraordinary gains made during the past 25 years are to be maintained and that the government should conduct a reform.

The status and role of civil society is cited as one major reform area. In order to move forward in a democracy, commentators contend, civil society must be front and center in the process. According to different studies, civil societies are not only subjects of reform but also a driving force to bring overall changes in the country. SisayAlemahuYeshanew (PhD), in his research paper entitled ‘CSO Law in Ethiopia: “It is not only citizens but also the government, which lose when the space for civil society participation unreasonably constricts. The value in the work of CSOs, including in the identification of gaps and problems, advocacy for a conducive environment for human rights and sustainable development, and supportive interventions in crisis situations, should not be underestimated. The government of Ethiopia would, therefore, find it worthwhile excluding the restrictive elements of the Proclamation or replacing them with more reasonable requirements of accountability and transparency,”

 The government seems to feel this urgency for reforming the CSOs and has also admitted that the role of the CSOs should be broadened. This is very good news for CSOs in Ethiopia, including Transparency Ethiopia. Because the government’s willingness to amend the laws by itself shows that it now longer sees CSOs as the cause but as the solution. And working together with them can bring a significant change to the problems the country is facing currently. Also CSOs will no longer be shorthanded. They will have large amount of resources and can engage in different sectors which desperately need assistance and guidance of the CSOs.

Source; the reporter magazine, 24 Jun, 2017 edition.

A panel on “Corruption and Public Service Delivery in Ethiopia” convened

A panel organized in collaboration with the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC) was held on July 3, 2008 at Ghion Hotel. The panel which was the second of the series of panel discussions which are envisaged to be held in this year had the theme: “Corruption and Public Service Delivery in Ethiopia: Issues on Some Selected Public Services.” The intention of the panel was to:

To discuss and public awareness on some corruption sensitive public services;
To facilitate the exchange of information and expertise on issues of corruption and public service delivery
To encourage/urge the various government offices and stakeholders streamline corruption in the programs and activities
To identify corrupt practices and discuss on institution and legal gaps that could affect the proper implementation of public service delivery
To promote mutual understanding and shared responsibility among stakeholders in the fight against corruption; and
To come up with possible remedies and mechanisms by which corruption couldn’t be a threat to the national development.

Opening the panel, Mr. Eyasu Yimer, Director of Transparency Ethiopia (TE) said that such panel discussion has greater contribution to bring professionals and participants with different backgrounds together that would allow the exchange of ideas and experiences between themselves, adding that this would be vital to identify the problems and come up with workable solutions to the combating of corruption in the public service delivery.

On the other hand, in his opening satement at the panel, Ato Ali Suleiman, Commissioner of FEACC, Said that the civil service, which has wide coverage and extent live telecommunication, electricity supply, financial and health sectors, revenue collectors and license authority, the construction sector and others should be cleared from corruption and ethical problems to discharge its responsibility and play due role in national development. The Commissioner further noted that while the commission’s mandate is limited to governmental agencies in and development organizations, TE should extend its net work to combat corruption and malpractices in the private sector and NGOs.

Three Papers related with the theme were presented by Mr. Garbis Korajian, Dr.Yayehirad Asnake and Ato Bezabih Gebreyes. The panel was moderated by Dr. Hailemichael Abera, President of the Civil Service College.

The presentations were followed by a question and answer session which generated considerable debate that dealt with a wide range of issues. This allowed participants to forward comments, suggestions and raise issues that they did not understand. It also enabled the presenters to clear areas of misunderstandings.

Participants were drawn from the whole spectrum of stakeholders including prominent personalities, public servants, public officials, professional groups, academia, the private sector, the NGO community and the media.

The panel was sponsored by TE from the financial support obtained from the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the Norwegian Church Aid Ethiopia.

In his closing statement, Dr. Hailemichael Abera urged every segments of the society including the government, religious institutions, non-government organizations, individuals and others to exert their effort to fight corruption so as to accelerate the development of the country which in his view is something achievable. He concluded his remark by expressing gratitude to all participants who attended the panel actively.

A Panel Discussion on “Corruption and the Private sector in Ethiopia” inaugurated

Transparency Ethiopian (TE) in collaboration with the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC) launched a panel discussion on the above topic on September 25, 2008 at Ghion Hotel.

As part of the project entitled “Deepening knowledge on Corruption via panel discussion” the panel discussion was conducted with the following objectives among others:

1. To discussion and raise public awareness on some private business where corruption prevails;
2. To facilitate the exchange of in formation and expertise on issues of corruption and the private sector;
3. To encourage/urge the private sector, government offices and stakeholders stream line corruption in their programs and activities
4. To identify corrupt practices and discuss on institutional and legal gaps that could affect the proper implementation of activities in the private sector;

The panel discussion was opened by Ato Addissu meagistu, Deputy Commissioner of FEACC.

In his opening speech at the panel discussion, Ato Addisu Mengistu said that the anti-corruption movement in Ethiopia could meet its goal when there is strong partnership among the different segments of the society.

The Deputy Commissioner said that business entities should understand the negative impact of corruption and should have the commitment to fight it. He said the fight against corruption could be demonstrated by avoiding corrupt practices and dealing with working procedures that are prone to corruption offences. He further added that the business community is expected to play an active role in the fight against corruption for they are more susceptible to the practices of corruption.

The deputy commissioner noted that such panel discussion is of paramount importance for it allows discussions among participants of the panel discussion and in identifying procedural and legal gaps in the private sector so as to come up with durable solutions to the problem.

Four papers were presented by Dr. Getachew Demeke, Ato Medihin Kiros, Dr. Yayehyrad Asnake and Ato Eyasu Yimer. The panel discussion was chaired by Dr. Assefa Admassie, Director of Policy Research in the Ethiopian Economic Association.

Following the presentations, there were question and answer session where participants posed different questions and forwarded their suggestions as well.

The participants of the panel discussion included notable personality, public Servants, scholars and academicians, the private sector, representatives from NGOs and the media. Expense of the panel discussion was covered by TE obtained from the financial support of the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the Norwegian Church Aid - Ethiopia.

Radio Programme Of TE

Transparency Ethiopia on the 20th of April has begun transmitting a weekly Amharic radio program on corruption issues. The program is transmitted on radio Fana, FM 98.1, from 5 PM to 5: 30 PM every Sunday.

The overall aim of the program is to educate the public on the essence, manifestations and adverse effects of corruption, and consequently contribute to the creation of a corruption intolerant society in our country. The program is also expected to constitute an important forum for a multi-polar discussion (mainly involving public, government, private sector and civil society) on the issue of corruption.

Transparency Ethiopia invites readers to listen on this weekly radio program and write on matters they wish to comment on.