Cash register paper shortage slows business

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The hard currency shortage is now causing a lack of paper for cash register machines. It has been about ten years since the country announced the use of cash register machines at selected businesses, the practice has widely spread throughout different parts of the country and businesses.
According to users that Capital spoke, the absence of the cash register machine paper is affecting their daily business.
One of the sources, a businessman, that Capital interviewed said that he is unable to buy products from the market due to lack of the machine paper.
“For my service business I buy bulk products from Addis and sell in other parts  of the country, but in the past few weeks I have been struggling to buy products,” he said.
According to cash register machine law, sellers have to issue a receipt on every sale. If the machine is down or there is a power interruption they can use a manual receipt and inform the relevant tax office.
Experts at the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) said that they have not heard about the paper shortage affecting business.
Ephrem Mekonnen, Public Relations Head of ERCA, told Capital that the business community is trying to connect the issue to the hard currency shortage.
“It is known that the hard currency shortage affects the economic activity, but it is an exaggeration to say the market is being slowed down by a of machine paper,” he added.
Besides the imports   local producers are also engaged in the production, while the hard currency shortage may affect the usual supply, he says.
There are importers of the paper, but it is also produced locally by Haron Computer Plc.
Kedir Hashim, Chief Operation Head at Haron, told Capital that his paper factory is also affected by the shortage of raw material which is imported.
“We have tried our best to supply the paper for clients directly as opposed to providing it to distributers,” Kedir said. “We are providing the paper to distributors at the micro level but our priority is direct users to harmonize the market and maintain a reasonable price,” he added.
Haron is also one of the major cash register machine suppliers authorized by ERCA. The company stated that its paper distribution covers wide areas in Oromia and SNNP regions in addition to the capital.
According to Kedir, the Association of Machine and Software Suppliers has tried to work with the authority closely to solve the challenge. He said that ERCA is helping suppliers to get the hard currency from banks, while public banks are not giving priority to them like private banks are. “If we have a  support letter from ERCA the private banks are relatively collaborative, which is not the case at public banks,” he said.
He advised that the government should give prior attention for the sector since it is directly related with the government revenue.
As of the first nine months of the past budget year that ended a week ago 172,088 businesses use 188,416 cash register machines throughout the country. Every year the number of users is increasing significantly. For instance, for the first nine months of the stated budget year 9,295 new users were included on the system. Thirteen companies are actively engaged in supplying the machine.