$828,252,617 USD or 7.2 billion birr unaccounted for from previous Ethiopian budget

By Simegnish Yekoye
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia- The Ethiopian auditor general’s performance report on the budget of the previous fiscal year and the first nine months of this year indicated that 7.2 billion birr ($828,252,617 USD; 1 USD=8.693 ---*correction made by the blog publisher GEJA which Simgenish calculated wrongly the 7.2 billion birr to $830,000 USD) was unaccounted for.
The report, presented to the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives on Tuesday, drew harsh criticisms from opposition leaders.
“This is unbelievable and embarrassing. If it were in other countries the officials (criminals) involved in this would have lost their jobs,” said Temesgen Zewde, a representative of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUDP).
Unbelievable as it may seem, this lack of accountability is not without precedent in Ethiopia.
In 2003 (1995 Eth. calendar), 4.8 billion birr allocated to regional states was taken as being completely spent without any knowledge of where the money had gone.
In response to the report the Ministry of Economy and Finance said to the auditor general that it is not its responsibility to check where the money goes and what it was spent on. Their duties only entail registering the budget as an outflow.
“Living in poverty and getting the money through taxes, loans and donations, it is amazing that the ministry says that it isn’t its responsibility to follow up on where the money goes,” Temesgen added.The report’s findings presented to the parliament showed that a shortfall of 82.2 million birr was accounted for in 27 federal and 18 regional offices.15 federal and 25 regional revenue offices were also cited for not collecting a total of 1.3 million birr in taxes from last year ‘s budget, excluding the Federal Inland Revenue and customs offices.
“We feel there is a danger in the country when 7.2 billion birr is lost from our budget through mismanagement…without any proof of where the money has gone,” opposition Ethiopian Union Democratic Party (EUDP)/Medhin representative Abdurahman Ahmed said after listening to the report.In the presentation of the report, auditor general Lema Aregaw said that a total of 13.1 million birr was found registered as expenditures in seven federal and 22 regional offices without any explanations attached. “Out of the specified [13.1 million], 4.2 million birr is from the ministry of defense, 2.8 million from the 103rd Ethiopian army corps, 2.9 million from the Somalia militia bureau and 1.9 million from the Somali education bureau,” Lema said.
Misappropriated funds and flawed documentation were also noted in the auditor general’s report. In reply, minister of tourism and culture and ruling party MP Mohammed Drire said that the report presented was not meant to make parliamentarians feel depressed or cry over what had happened, but to study the problem areas and find ways for parliament to maintain checks and balances on the executive bodies and make them accountable to the rule of law. “This doesn’t mean changing the place to a kangaroo court,” Drire said. “Because according to our constitution, a person is called a criminal only when the court passes a verdict on it.”

Source: www.ssinformer.com

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