State minister of Finance Eyob

Media Played ‘Adverse Role’ in Rising Commodity Prices

ADDIS ABEBA- Media has played an adverse role in the excise tax bill induced price increase on various commodities in the past two weeks Ethiopia, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

Following the introduction of the bill for the lawmakers, prices of commodities increased at an astronomic rate.

The proposed price increases in some items stated in the bill as ‘hazardous and luxury’ have been used as a pretext by the traders to increase on commodities in their stock.

Commodities including vehicles, sugar, oil, cigarettes and many other products have exhibited an increase in price, according to Daily Monitor’s market observation in the capital.

State Minister of Finance Eyob Tekaleign (Ph.D.) believes misunderstanding in the media has played a big part in swaying the prices.

“I don’t think the media understands the bill well,” he said, adding the narrative built by them from the beginning was at fault for the rise in the price of commodities.

Eyob also said the government is not “free from blame” either, as it should be communicating the issue “to everybody in a proper way”.

– Illogical increase –

The state minister described the price increment illogical. “Even if the bill endorsed as it is, except on secondhand vehicles, there is no reason to increase the price on any other commodity,” Eyob said during a consultative meeting.

Several high-ranking government officials from the ministry of revenue, transport finance, health, trade, media and members of non-government officials attended the meeting in a bid to clarify the content of the bill and ease the existing market situation.

The meeting has also discussed the possible impacts of the bill that amends a 17-year-old excise tax bill.

Participants from the private sector said the current price escalation was “due to government’s failure to make prior consultation on the bill”.

Excise tax contributes 0.7 percent of the national GDP.

The ongoing industrial policy needs reformed tax law, said Eyob adding the excise draft law will have a significant positive impact that the perceived “negative consequences”.

The state minister said the government would soon take “decisive action to regulate the current distorted market structure”.

By Sisay Sahlu

Image caption: State Minister Eyob [Photo File]