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Ermyas wants to return home
The government announced that it has a special committee working to solve problems faced by Access Real Estate Share Company (ARE) and home buyers.
A legal representative of Ermyas T Amelga met with the governmental committee to explore the possibility of the CEO and former broad chairman of ARE returning.
The main committee, chaired by Mekuria Haile, Minister of Urban Development, Housing and Construction (MUDHCo) was established last July to address the problems of those affected by ARE, in three phases.
At a press conference on Thursday at the Ministry of Trade representatives of the technique committee, which is established under the main committee, announced that they are working to solve the problem by utilizing short, medium and long term plans.
The technical committee chaired by Nuredin Mohamed, General Manager of Ethiopian Trading Enterprise (ALLE) and advisor at the Ministry of Trade (MoT), stated that the government will solve not only ARE’s problems, but other issues related to the sector.
“In the short term we will solve problems related with the company and home buyers, and then we will focus on the issues related to third parties that have a stake in the company,” Nuredin said.
The long term will focus on not only on the Access issue but it will examine the real estate business, lease proclamation and issues related to the regulation of the general share companies and their interaction with government policy directions, according to the technical committee chair.
The officials stated that the technical committee has met over 15 times in the past four months, and in addition, the main committee has undertaken a couple of meetings.
Sources said that since the establishment of the committee it has been focused on investigating the financial activity of the company and land issues.
“We have been focused on inventory works,” Nuredin said.
Sources said that the technical committee focused on major pre conditions before it launched the commencement of its official work this week. They have been undertaking several significant works including identifying the lands owned by the company and other third parties, sources told Capital. They added that the technical committee, which includes representatives from eight ministries and the Addis Ababa City Administration, has also been trying to address some legal procedures with the Ministry of Justice, which is also a member of both committees, to solve issues related with land ownership.
The committee also evaluated the 2012 audit report of ARE and they decided to re audit the company through a government run auditing enterprise.
According to sources, one goal of the committee was to undertake more inventory work collecting data on land ownership. It expects to complete this task within three months.
“In the mid-range plans, which will take six months, the committee has targeted to accomplish receiving the lands, transferring ownership and finalizing the construction permit issues,” sources said.
According to the source, the long term plan involves the technical committee facilitating the construction commencement and transferring the houses to home buyers, which is expected to take one year.
Nuredin also stated that the long term plan will include potential improvements for the real estate sector including ratifying the new commercial code, real estate proclamation and other related issues.
Nuredin said that the committee will work to apply the rights of the citizens based on the constitution.
“We will work to benefit all sides including home buyers, the company and other third parties,” he said. “We understand that there is no single resolution that will provide a final solution for every stakeholder,” he added.
Some of the home buyers ended up going to court to have their concerns addressed, while others have gotten a final verdict from the court and were given the rights to own incomplete buildings. However this usually did not alleviate the problem as other stakeholders (such as additional home buyers or the original land owners) also claim the property based on court decisions.
“The committee said that the Ministry of Justice has come up with legal concepts to make sure every resource is fairly distributed as opposed to allowing for separate ownership,” the committee members said.
The technical committee stated that the main committee will give detailed information in the near future about what they have been doing over the past months.
Home buyers and shareholders of the company have frequently asked for the government to step in and help solve the problem. In the past several months representatives from the homebuyers and ARE share holders met with officials to talk about how the government can help with finding solutions for the problem.
The main committee includes Kebede Chane, Minister of Trade, who is vice chair and representatives from MoJ, Federal Police, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other stakeholders.
Some of the homebuyers at Access told Capital they are happy the government is getting involved. “We have information that the committee is coming up with some steps to take to achieve a final solution to the problem,” these home buyers said.
A representative from MUDHCo said that the government is currently working to issue a new law for the real estate sector that was expected to be ratified in the past fiscal year, but it paused to include other related laws like the government housing development, house rent and house standards.
“The new proclamation is currently at Ministry of Justice for final evaluation, but we have already finalized some directives that are necessary for applying the proclamation,” representatives from MUDHCo said at the press conference.
Ermyas T Amelga
The committee disclosed that it is currently evaluating the diplomacy directions and legal procedures in collaboration with Federal Police and MOJ to close the other side of the coin of the problem.
Even though the committee did not mention anything about Ermyas T Amelga, the former CEO, board chairman and founder of ARE, sources said that the diplomatic or legal conditions will focus on him.
Sources said that currently the Federal Prosecutor and Federal Police have established a joint team to investigate the illegalities on the issue and to see possible ways to take legal action against those involved in the ARE business, if the problem is not able to be solved through diplomatic channels.
“The committee is trying to negotiate with Ermyas who is currently in Dubai, UAE,” a source said.
The legal representative of Ermyas has already spoken with the technical committee on the ways on how Ermays could be persuaded to return to the country.
Ermyas has also sent a letter via his legal representative to the committee and apparently he is interested in returning to the country to be part of the solution and to go through appropriate legal procedures, a source said.
“The committee is currently giving priority to solving the problem diplomatically. If it will be unfruitful it will follow the legal process,” a source said.
Over 2,000 homebuyers purchased a house from ARE and some of them have fully paid the amount. However the company did not accomplish or deliver a single house for buyers over the past five years.
The company has 651 shareholders and the majority bought their share after the company was formed.