Draft proclamation ridiculed

The business community blasted the new draft proclamation of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A participant called it a ‘Treaty of Wuchale’ that aims to elevate their autonomy on pillar activities.
The draft proclamation that targets to replace the controversial Proclamation Chambers of Commerce and Sectorial Association Establishment no.341/2003 has been discussed as the event organized by Addis Ababa Chamber and Sectoral Association in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, who is responsible on the drafting process.
The draft proclamation indicated that the formation of chambers will be carried out under state structure form and most of the participants who attended the discussion on Friday, December 25 at Sheraton Addis, ended up ridiculing it.
They said that at the inception the draft has made problems since it demands the business community to be organized under governmental administration form.
One of the participants argued that the business does not have a region like politics; it shall trade everywhere in the country and cities in different regions, “Such kind of formation process would not be acceptable for the business community.”
Mohammed Nur Sani, who is well known on the leadership of such kind of business associations, said that basically industry or agriculture are commerce due to that the name should be chamber of commerce other than adding other words. “Most of the countries are using similar name for chambers,” he said.
Mohammed argued that the proclamation does not have any change regarding membership from the existed 18 years old proclamation, “It was one of the major differences on the current proclamation. Membership shall be open for every interested individual companies or businesses.”
He recommended the proclamation to consider the involvement of associate members like higher education or other non-governmental organizations with not vote.
The veteran sector expert said that the percentage on the representation of board of directors would not benefit the interest of the members. Other rationality and optional formula should be considered on the representation,” he added.
The draft proclamation stated that the board of directors comprised by 50 percent from regional chamber of commerce and industry, 40 percent from national manufacturing industry and sectoral association and ten percent from national commerce association.
Yohannes Woldegabriel, prominent legal expert particularly engaged in arbitration at the chamber said that at the preamble the draft stated that the proclamation required the formation of a strong chamber that shall play pivotal role on the economic growth of the country in providing inputs for the government and stake holders.
“Against the experience of other countries, the draft proclamation rejects city chambers and targets to undertake the way of state structure,” he says “Cities are the initial point for the formation of national chamber. In my view urban based chambers should be encouraged.”
He reminded that EPRDF had extreme stereotype on urban based chambers and expressed his concern that this one may repeat that. According to him, two tiers system shall be applicable like others countries by including urban and national chambers other than the idea stated on the proclamation.
“Strong urban chamber shall help the business community than the current situation due to that is supposed to be implemented,” he explained.
The participants also expressed their concern that besides city chambers it totally ignored other economic zones like industry parks and manufacturing industries that for example concentrated on the outskirt of Addis Ababa.
Elias Genete, former President of Addis Ababa Chamber Commerce and Sectoral Association, expressed his concern that the proclamation might not be ratified by the proclamation since it does not take into account the current government structure of the federal system.
“According to the federal system of the country, regions have their own autonomy, while on my evaluation the draft proclamation has not considered that. Due to that it may not be accepted by parliament,” he explained.
He added that city chambers should be formed and they report to regional bodies.
“It mentioned the government economic policies at the preamble, which is not necessary to mention for the formation of chambers because they are independent from politics,” he added
Wubshet Hailu, owner of Watt International, strongly criticized the draft proclamation that he said on the drafting process was not consulting former chamber leaders who perfectly understand the challenges and gaps on the existed proclamation.
He added that the chamber of commerce must be established from the grass root at the city level, while the draft dissolved such structures.
“I fill that it looks like a ‘Treaty of Wuchale’ (a treaty signed between the Ethiopian government in the era of Emperor Minilik and Italy that was the cause for Adwa War) because it aims to enforce members to get certification for their every activities,” he says.
“It is indirect rule like the motive of a ‘Treaty of Wuchale’,” Wubshet said expressing his disappointment on the draft proclamation, and added that his companies will totally leave the chamber if this will be ratified.
Eshete Assefa, State Minister of Trade and Industry, told Capital that the drafting process of the proclamation inputs and claims that were presented by the chamber leadership in the past has been considered.
“We have created open discussion on the draft proclamation and will consider the arguments before finalizing the proclamation,” he stated.

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