Jan 19 , 2019
The tale of two dispositions could be what best describes Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s public performances early last week, gossip observed. He has had a series of meetings with the nation’s top diplomats who have been called back home from across the world. Another audience he gave was to the senior executives of the finance industry.
Meeting the diplomatic brass, Abiy was seen well prepared and organized, largely talking about foreign policy realism and pragmatism in this rather multipolar world of delicate relationships among nations. He placed the bar high, demanding of them results and delivery, disclosed gossip.
That was until he lost his cool when issues were raised by some of the diplomats about budget matters and the difficulties in selling the country as a bastion of peace and stability due to the ongoing conflicts across the country. The Prime Minister was frank, if not blunt, in bouncing back, claims gossip.
Reminding them that someone in their missions carrying around their Samsonite briefcases is paid, he urged the ambassadors to think about what the country spends in financing missions abroad, gossip disclosed. He lashed out at them, claiming that him making a couple of calls could yield a lot more results for the country than what they have to show for, gossip claims.
If the ambassadors were dumbfounded, because their boss said this to their faces, they could have gained solace knowing what had transpired between the Prime Minister and the big bosses of the nation’s banks and insurance firms, according to gossip.
Many of them had thought that the Prime Minister called them up to assemble at the Lorenzo Te`azaz Road in order to consult on the role of finance in what could be an evolving macroeconomic policymaking, says gossip. Some had in mind, after close to nine months of a rocky journey in the political front, that it was about time to debate finance’s place in charting a course to help the economy cruise in stable waters, gossip observed.
They found the Prime Minister, hurried as he was, with a strong passion for developing the river banks of Addis Abeba, whose cost he had claimed could reach 29 billion Br, gossip revealed. His argument to justify such a massive investment is the promotion of tourism from which firms in the financial sector could benefit, claims gossip.
They were also told that mobilising resources to pay for the project would be less of a headache as he could muster his charm in getting it from a couple of sources overseas, gossip says. It was only that the Prime Minister wants to give them a heads up so that later on they would not be justified in complaining they were not given the first chance, gossip disclosed.
Abiy also informed them of the plan to carry out a significant restoration work on Menelik II Palace up in Arat Kilo with a budget of five billion Birr, before it is opened for public viewing, gossip says. First built by Emperor Menelik, the palace hosts the Prime Minister and his family as their official residence. Abiy wants to see close to 200 species of exotic animals brought in as part of public amusement and attraction to visitors, disclosed gossip. Had it not been for his busy schedule, Abiy told them he would have them get a tour of the 48,000sqm premises where construction work has been in full swing for a couple of months now, according to gossip.
The nation’s senior bankers and heads of insurance firms were caught off guard when they were asked to chip in two-thirds of their aggregate deposits, claims gossip. Some among them, such as Addisu Haba of Debub Bank and president of the Bankers’ Association, tried to raise other issues such as the need to allocate plots for headquarter buildings of the new entrants in the industry, says gossip. Others, such as Eyesusworq Zafu of United Insurance and Bank, were vocal in pronouncing their displeasure and disappointment due to the squandered opportunity of meeting the Prime Minister, claims gossip.
PUBLISHED ON Jan 19,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 977]
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