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Ethiopia’s government has announced plans to import and distribute food and other items, in order to tackle what it sees as supply problems caused by what the Trade Ministry calls “greedy businessmen”.
But some importers have raised concerns that the new Ethiopian Trade Enterprise (ETE) will operate a monopoly and force existing businesses out of the market.
“If this enterprise directly involves in importing and distributing commodities, our business will be damaged badly and will eventually close down,” one importer told Capital. The ETE will import commodities at a reasonable price, without compromising quality, according to officials at the Ministry of Trade. A spokesman said: “This would help to keep imported inflation under manageable control and minimise foreign currency expenditure.”
Launching originally in Addis Ababa and then expanding to other cities, the aim of the ETE will be to carry out trade in a more co-ordinated and organised manner than at present.
This is not the first time the government has taken action in an attempt to stabilise the market. In January 2011, it imposed price ceilings on major food and non-food items.
It also imported huge quantities of wheat through the Ethiopian Grain Trade Enterprise with the same aim.
The government has claimed that major price inflation is due to “non economic reasons”, with speculators destabilising the market by assuming the birr will lose value, which the government firmly refutes.
It insists that, as the new enterprise is launched, the market will see a smooth transaction of commodities, putting illegally profiting businesses to the side.