METEC head goes on the defensive after scathing review

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Responding to damning reports of the Ethiopian house of people’s representatives last Wednesday, Kinfe Dagnew, head of the state-owned Metal and Engineering Corporation (METEC), also a military general, spent much of his time on the defensive. His corporation ventures the construction of numerous multi-billion sugar factories, securing them without any competitive bidding. Kinfe sees METEC’s role as an economical solution to the government’s plan to transform the country from a sugar importer to one of the top exporters in the world. However, it is increasingly becoming clear it is only a fantasy and questions are being raised about METEC’s capacity to execute such projects. So far, none of those projects were completed, though the project deadlines long overdue. The government Development Affairs Standing Committee of the House heard last week the two big projects Tana Beles I, Tana Beles II for which the state pumped billions of dollars are lagging behind, only 77 percent executed for the first one and 25 percent for the second one. The deadline for the completion of the projects were 2013. Another project, Omo Kuraz sugar project that was planned be completed by 2015 is at 93 percent, according to reports of the the project owner, Ethiopian Sugar Corporation.
METEC is criticized for project completion delays, breaches of rules and regulations, manipulating corporate and finance policies, violating its procurement guideline.Kinfe sounded defensive, saying he doesn’t regret a thing. “I believe that we are working hard to realize the projects, against all odds and making sacrifices for the development of the country,” he said.“We have done our best to speed up the projects. The work on the ground speak for itself.” he said. Yet, he also listed foreign currency shortages, regular power cut, METEC’s administrative problems as reasons for poor performances and delays. He also blamed last year’s political unrest impeding the progress of those projects.
“If anyone is to be held responsible, it is only me,” he told members of the House.
METEC was established in 2010 as a military industrial complex by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, “with a view to providing impetus to lifting up the Ethiopian economy and achieving progress.” It incorporates close to 70 enterprises in the engineering sector, and it is getting notoriety for taking the stat’s megaprojects, despite poor execution so far.Some see this as dangerous trend of the military getting involved in the country’s private enterprise and strengthening its economic power. One of the regime’s powerful politicians, Abay Tsehay defended METCE saying that though it owned by the military, it operates as a civilian enterprise.

Arefayné Fantahun
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