Ethiopia: Businesses in Addis go on strike

ESAT News (July 24, 2017)

Businesses in Addis went on strike on Monday in protest against the new tax assessment by authorities despite statements by officials over the weekend that the new tax hike has been scrapped.

Merkato, the main business district in the capital, was ghostly quiet Monday morning with shops closed and vendors not be seen anywhere on the otherwises hustle and bustle streets of a market, considered Africa’s biggest market.

Saturday’s edition of the pro-government newspaper, The Reporter, quoted Kebede Chane, Director of the Revenue and Customs Authority, as saying that the new tax hikes have been scrapped. He admitted that the new assessment of taxes on small businesses has faced protests over its fairness.

“The government would just be content if these sections of the community are self sufficient and take care of themselves,” Chane said. “It is enough if these people met their basic needs and feed themselves.”

It is not clear why the government official used a weekly newspaper to make the announcement and why the government is not giving an official statement through its media apparatus on the cancellation of the new taxes.

Meanwhile, strikes have gotten momentum in the Amhara as well as the Oromo region, where the strikes began last week.

Mota, Dejen, Bichena, Shebel Berenta, in the Amhara region and Jimma in Oromo are some of the districts where strikes have reportedly continued on Monday. In Debretabor, Bajaj operators have gone on strikes objecting the news license fees and taxes.

Reports reaching ESAT say the strikes by businesses in the capital Addis Ababa is scheduled to last three days.