President stresses reform in speech to lawmakers

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(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

President Sahlework Zewde in her address to the joint session of the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) and the House of Federation (HoF), highlighted the nation’s journey toward reform. Even though, she noted, changes have been holistic and vast, they want to make even deeper reforms by following the philosophy of ‘Medemer’.
In her speech she went over reforms in the political, social and economic spheres and tangible ways the government want to benefit the people.
This year the government is working on three pillars, maintaining Ethiopian unity, ensuring the dignity of the Ethiopian people and helping Ethiopians to be more prosperous.
“There have been improvements in equitable redistribution of resources, democracy, the justice system, economic activity, and politics since Prime Minister Abiy took power. Shortcomings in these areas have not yet been fully addressed,” she said. Because some problems are systemic and institutional they will take more time, she added.
Speaking about the current budget year, the president believes the importance of strengthening foundational work in peace and security, the democratization process, and modernizing the justice system.
Empowering the security institutions is another core area that the government plans to work on in order to prevent the potential conflicts from their sources by engaging the defense force, federal police and regional police forces in capacity building training and deepening the reform to reduce the number of internally displaced people.
“A strong, competent and professional security force is needed to ensure peace throughout Ethiopia,” she said.
According to the president, this will enable the country to conduct the upcoming election successfully and to maintain the rule of law. She called on the people, media, civic society institutions including political parties and elites to work responsibly.
The president also spoke about the justice system where a three year program will be launched starting this year to strengthen the justice system. Capacity training for judges and other stakeholders to work independently to serve the people in a transparent manner will be the core values.
For this year, the new penal code, trade laws and administrative law are expected to be enacted, in some cases for the first time in 50 years. Moreover the president revels the government plans to pass verdicts on 250,000 cases. They plan to engage in advocacy with the community and students to deliver justice in a short period of time.
The recently announced a home grown economy is another core area. This is expected to rectify the macroeconomic imbalance by creating a conducive investment climate and boosting economic growth by increasing private sector involvement which will lead to more jobs.
Mobilizing resources from both local and international sources to alleviate the shortage of hard currency beside efforts to ease the countries burden of external debt is another action the government will take.
This year, two telecom companies will join the Ethiopian telecom market at 49 percent which will allow the state owned Ethio telecom to remain the major operator.
She also discussed modernizing the agricultural sector by deploying various incentives in addition to irrigation. This is expected to create over 12,000 jobs.
The irrigation scheme is also focused on the small scale to create more jobs and ensure productivity. Zaremay, arjo- dedesa, and megech dam which are under construction and a total of other 34 projects nationwide will be constructed as the nation is working to substitute wheat imports in the coming three years.
The president stressed that the government will continue to work on power generation to benefit 60 percent of the population who are living without electricity.
In this regard, the government has a keen interest to provide access to energy for one million customers in more than 405 rural areas in addition to the 10 power projects in the pipeline through the PPP scheme, besides improving tech based solutions.
The President also talked about education, ICT, diplomacy and tourism and stressed that we need unity to continue reforms.