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Cablegate: Ethiopia: Encouraging Central Government Budget

VZCZCXYZ0015
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDS #2497 2931442
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201442Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6553
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS ADDIS ABABA 002497

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EEB/IFD/OMA BRIANA SAUNDERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON EFIN PREL ET
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA: ENCOURAGING CENTRAL GOVERNMENT BUDGET
TRANSPARENCY DEMARCHE - CONTINUED

REF: STATE 98111

1. (SBU) P/ECouns and EconOff delivered reftel demarche to
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Acting Director General for
Europe and the Americas Tesfaye Yilma on October 8 and
Minister of Finance and Economic Development State Minister
Mekonnen Manyazewal on October 13, emphasizing USG concern
with the complete lack of transparency regarding the books of
Ethiopia's many state-owned and ruling party-owned
businesses. Yilma stated that he did not envision a problem
with this issue; however, upon further clarification did not
elaborate whether that meant he thought the U.S. would
continue to give Ethiopia a waiver or whether Ethiopia would
make progress on making its budget more transparent. Yilma
did express concerns about revealing sensitive proprietary
information of certain state-owned enterprises such as
Ethiopian Airlines, but opined that some solution could be
identified.
2. (SBU) Manyazewal unapologetically defended Ethiopian
practices, volunteering that even he, in preparing Ethiopia's
budget, does not have access to those books but expressing
full confidence that the boards of directors of those
companies accurately report profits and losses as the basis
for payment of taxes and dividends. He argued that the USG
should reconsider its evident insistence that transparency is
the best policy in all business contexts and remember that
the U.S., in its pre-privatization period, itself did not
insist on full transparency. He pointed out that Ethiopia
meets international standards for accountability and
transparency in the private sector. P/ECouns agreed that
Ethiopia's recent transparency efforts in the private sector
were impressive, but reiterated our concern about lack of
transparency for state-owned and ruling party-owned
enterprises. Manyazewal agreed to consider reftel nonpaper
and to report any reaction. As of October 20, he had not
contacted us.
MEECE

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