Five key takeaways from PM Hailemariam Desalegne’s latest presser

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1. Salary adjustment and inflation

The Premier argued that the recent signs of commodity price rise, which followed the announcement of civil servants salary adjustment, have no economic basis. Hailemariam Desalegne

The inflation rate was kept at single digit for two years; therefore all other factors that could give rise to inflation are in control. As the new salary scale, the details of which have not been disclosed yet, will enter the payroll at the end of this month, Hailemariam argued, there is no new money in the market that could be prompt price hike.

He also claimed the government made sure that less than half of the budget deficit will be financed from the Central Bank, in the fiscal year that begins this year.

Hailemariam appears either to have ignored or reject as irrational that expectation, in and of itself, can trigger inflation. Thus, he categorically characterized any price hike at this point as greediness that will be dealt first with “education” then with “legal measures”.

2. Andargachew Tsigie:

Andargachew Tsigie’s extradition from Yemen is not an isolated case, Hailemariam indicated. The government has been seeking for the extradition of terror-suspects and rebel leaders “in the past years”.

He triumphantly cited the extradition of a Norwegian-national Gambella rebel leader from South Sudan and ONLF leaders from Kenya, as recent examples.

According to Hailemariam, the threat that these suspects pose – individually or as a group – is not that high. However, they are Trojan horses of “foreign governments that wish to sabotage Ethiopia’s peace and growth”. He didn’t name these hostile states, except Eritrea.

Asked whether there is a contradiction between his remarks on BBC that there won’t be a re-trial and that he can’t say whether Andargachew Tsigie will be executed as per the 2009 and 2011 court sentences, Hailemariam said no. It is up to the President of the Republic to approve the death sentence or grant pardon.

3. Recent detentions:

Commenting on the recent wave of detention of journos, bloggers and opposition leaders, which are, or expected to be, charged with the anti-terror legislation, Hailemariam claimed that it was not a knee-jerk action. The detainees have long been on the watch-list, adding that there are more suspects whom his government has decided not detain in the hope that they might change their ways.

Hailemariam reiterated the usual government line that being a member of the media, opposition parties or international NGOs cannot provide immunity. He added “not even residing in a foreign country”.

He also advised the journalists, present in the presser “not to take part in any terror network”.

Hailemariam claimed that terror-suspects and their colleagues “ran to foreign embassies in Addis Ababa” when his government take measures. He sarcastically added, it appears the Embassies have better grasp of the fact that they cannot save them.

4. Exports growth

Hailemariam attributed the below-target growth in exports to the low volume and quality of inputs in textile and leather sectors, respectively. He further indicated that low international price for agricultural products affected the total revenue earned from exported items and prompted hoarding among gold producers.

According to the Prime Ministers, there are works underway to enhance input supply and compensate revenue by enhancing the volume of agricultural exports.

5. South Sudan

Hailemariam dismissed South Sudanese President’s claim that Hailemariam threated to arrest him lest he signs the cease fire agreement last May, claiming that President Salva Kiir told Ethiopian officials that “it was a joke”. According to Hailemariam, Kiir said that those who made it news “have no sense of humor”.

Therefore, Hailemariam said, “we have taken it as a joke”, prompting laugher from the journalist in the room – the first since his ascendance to the Premiership. (