Fortune News | Sep 06,2020
July 13 , 2020
By FASIKA TADESSE ( FORTUNE STAFF WRITER )
With a short notice that spanned less than a day, the Federal Housing Corporation has evicted retired and former senior government officials from the houses they have been living in for over two decades.
The Corporation along with police started evicting the former and veteran officials from the housing units two weeks ago without giving prior notice of eviction. The Corporation started evicting them following the Council of Ministers' decision, made last month, ordering all former officials to immediately return government vehicles and houses in their custody.
Sebhat Nega, Seyoum Mesfin, Zeray Asgedom, Fetleworq Gebre-egziyabher (Monjorino), Asmelash Weldesellasie (Abay Nefso), Keriya Ibrahim, Kassu Illala and Tewdros Hagos are among the former federal government officials who were evicted from the houses and forced to return government vehicles. Other special benefits they have been getting including free medical services were revoked.
"It was sudden, and we were only given about three hours to leave the house," said Sebhat Nega, one of the retired veteran leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF). "We neither received a verbal nor a written letter notifying us to leave the house."
Sebhat, whose last government office assignment was as director at the former Ethiopian Foreign Relations Strategic Institute, has been living at a state-owned house located near Beqllo Bet in the capital for the past 29 years. Until he retired, he had been paying rent and utility fees, but all were removed when he retired.
Two years ago, the Council of Ministers chaired by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) also passed a decision allowing retired and former political appointees to enjoy special benefits, including using state vehicles along with free fuel, houses and free medical services. The special benefit entitlement was given to outgoing government officials under a proclamation that was enacted almost two decades ago.
The proclamation entitles outgoing heads of state and government, senior government officials, members of the parliament and judges to enjoy various benefits including severance pay, housing and vehicle allowance, free medical services, security services and maintenance allowances after they leave office as pensioners. The benefits are granted based on the former assignments of the pensioners.
However, the Council of Ministers in its recent meeting revoked the special benefits, stating that the change was enacted in order to have uniform benefits for all senior government officials leaving office as pensioners. The Ministry of Finance was also ordered to ensure the return of the state-owned houses and vehicles from the former appointees.
The Federal Housing Corporation, which operates 18,153 commercial and residential units in Addis Abeba and Dire Dawa, has evicted the former government appointees from the houses. The Ministry of Finance is already making the ex-government officials return the vehicles.
Reshad Kemal, director-general of the Corporation, did not respond to a phone call or text message from Fortune before the paper went to print.
"We were forced to leave even without getting a place to move to or take our house furniture and equipment," Sebhat told Fortune. "And much of the house equipment was damaged while we were trying to take out the items in a rush."
While removing the entire benefits of the former officials, the government has partially revoked the benefits given for some former officials including Bereket Simon and Tadesse Kassa, both former senior government officials. Both had been entitled to a government house and two vehicles with drivers and fuel. Their utilities fees were also being covered by the government.
However, with the new change they are subjected to pay a rental fee for the houses, cover their utilities bills and return one of the vehicles. But they are still entitled to one vehicle each along with a driver and free fuel consumption.
PUBLISHED ON Jul 13,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1055]
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