ETHIOPIA IN CRISIS: PM Reshuffles Cabinet, Bank Sets Cash Holding Limit

Addis Ababa. (Anadolu News Agency)

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By Addis Getachew | UPDATED: August 18th, 2020

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Amid a flurry of government reappointments instigated by recent ethnic violence, Ethiopia’s premier on Tuesday replaced the country’s defense minister.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed named Kene’a Yadeta in place of former defense chief Lemma Megersa, who had been a prominent figure in recent years prior to a major change in governance.

Lemma had diverged with Abiy, opposing the formation of the Prosperity Party formally supplanting the former Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a four-party coalition that firmly ruled the country for 27 years.

The Prosperity Party did away with party lines that divided the EPRDF on an ethnic basis, which Lemma argues would have been better at upholding the government’s federal system.

Recently, security fears have gripped the Horn of Africa country after violence erupted last month following the killing of Oromo activist and singer Hatchalu Hundessa. Deadly clashes and destruction had ensued in various places in Oromia, the most populous regional state.

Abiy also appointed Gedion Timothewos as new Attorney General, Samuel Urkato as minister science and higher education, Takele Uma as minister of mines and petroleum, Tesfaye Daba as deputy attorney general, Yohannes Buayalew as director-general of the Ethiopian Foreign Relations Strategic Studies Institute and Nigusu Tilahun as commissioner of the Job Creation Commission.

He also appointed Endawek Abte as deputy director-general of the Metals Engineering Corporation, Fekadu Tsega as deputy attorney general and Hirut Woldemariam as social sector advisor to the prime minister.

Last month’s violence saw the arrest and indictment of many politicians, some of whom are standing trial for alleged instigation of violence leading to the death of hundreds of civilians and destruction of property.

Ethiopia sets cash holding limit to prevent ‘hoarding’

By Addis Getachew | UPDATED: August 18th, 2020

Ethiopia on Tuesday set a limit on the amount of cash a firm or individual could hold at any given time, blaming liquidity “hoarding” for placing undue pressure on the country’s economy.

In a statement, National Bank Governor Yinager Dessie announced the limit of 1.5 million Ethiopian birr ($42,400), saying that the government had “come to the realization that hoarding cash is significantly harming the economy,” without specifying the amount of liquidity thought to have been accumulated.

“When the nature of their business compels them to possess a certain amount of money, companies can have in their possession not more than 1.5 million birr,” he said, adding that non-compliance with this measure would entail unspecified penalties.

Experts estimate that the amount of cash circulating informally in Ethiopia was more than that under circulation via banks.

According to Yinager, Ethiopia is trying to expand digital cash flow services such as ATMs, Point of Sales (PoS) and Switch Operators in a bid to maximize the amount of formal transactions.

The Central Bank is prepared to license prospective operators of these e-banking services, he added.

- Reprinted banknotes

Meanwhile, the country’s economy also lost millions each year to reprint banknotes that had been damaged or vandalized, said Yinager.

He urged people not to write on or tear banknotes, as this could damage the security features imprinted on them.

Related:

Ethiopia’s prime minister fires defense minister (AP)

Ethiopia PM fires defence minister, a one-time ally, in major reshuffle (Reuters)

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