News / Africa

Ethiopia’s Inflation Rate Hits Nearly 15 Percent in December

Ethiopia's annual inflation rate soared to 14.5 percente in December, partially due to steep increases in food prices following a currency devaluation.  The government is hoping newly imposed price controls will ease consumer pressure.

Ethiopia's Central Statistical Agency Friday said inflation had jumped from 10.2 percent in November to 14.5 percent last month. A statement said non-food items had gone up nearly 23 percent while food prices increased by almost 9 percent.

The government devalued the local currency, the birr, by 17 percent against the dollar in September, significantly raising the price of imported goods. Ethiopia already had a significant trade imbalance, with $1.2 billion worth of exports against nearly $7 billion in imports in the most recent year.

Last week, the government announced price controls on more than a dozen essential consumer goods as costs on food skyrocketed.

The caps on prices of such items as bread, meat, sugar, beverages and edible oils have proved to be popular with consumers in a country where per capita income is less than $400 a year.  But they have sparked howls of protest from shopkeepers, who have seen their profit margins cut sharply.

Some business operators have complained they are being forced to sell products at less than what they paid for them.

News agencies this week reported the government has closed down more than 100 retailers and suppliers who raised prices of price-controlled goods. The reports say retailers could face heavy fines and imprisonment for repeated violations.

Economists and opposition politicians say price controls distort markets and have been repeatedly shown to be counterproductive wherever they have been tried. Retired Ethiopian lawmaker and former World Bank director Bulcha Demeksa says it is a mistake to blame the business community for the government's mistakes.

"I'm not so angry with the retailers, sellers," said Bulcha.  "I'm angry with the government, because the government counts on its capability to control price. Prices cannot be controlled. It has been tried everywhere in the world and it has failed. Unless you make it a totally totalitarian society it is impossible to control prices."

Consumers, however, are widely supportive of the price caps. Shopper Shenkut Teshome says average Ethiopians have seen their purchasing power shrink to the point where many people were having to cut back on food.

"It is very important that the government should do the price control. Otherwise, with the free economy everybody is raising his price, and nobody can buy with his money, and at the end there is nothing to buy, and that makes a big difference," said Shenkut.  "The economy of the country stops growing, and people has not much money so they can afford anything, and if you don't have any price control, at the end of the day the people will starve."

A trade ministry official this week told of plans to expand the price controls to other consumer goods. He noted that the government's recent five-year economic plan has set a target of holding the inflation rate down to six percent a year.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid