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Contraband trade continues to threaten Ethiopia’s financial security

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Contraband trade and illicit financial flow continue to be a serious national security threat to Ethiopia, causing shortage of foreign currency for many years, a senior official has said.

Revenues Minister Adanech Abeebee told journalists that the government is working hard to make offenders accountable and block the channels of illicit finance in an organized manner.

Appropriate measures should then be taken on offenders as soon as possible, the minister pointed out, adding that “the issue of black market and illicit financial flow cannot be resolved only by creating awareness. Thus, all justice related institutions have to be more transparent and responsible to apprehend and punish the illegal actors.”.

The Ethiopian Customs Authority claimed it seized over 71 million dollars’ worth of contraband goods during Ethiopia’s last fiscal year, which ended on 7 July 2019.

Recently, the government of Ethiopia seemed to be convinced that contraband is becoming an issue of sovereignty, following the actions of criminal networks and illicit arms dealers.

Nation Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) Governor, Yinager Dessie, said illicit financial inflow and outflow of foreign currency are the major challenges the county has been facing.

This problem is a national setback, which should not to be left to a single institution or ministry, he noted.

“Without setting appropriate directions and taking measures based on studies and supporting them with integrated administration and policy, we cannot achieve the targets by working only at the cross-borders,” Yinager noted.

According to a study entitled “Illicit Financial Flows in Ethiopia” released by Transparency International in September 2018, an estimated average of 1.3 billion dollars to 3.2 billion dollars has left Ethiopia in the form of illicit financial flow every year.

The study covered the years 2005 to 2014.

This figure accounts for up to 29 percent of the country’s total international trade or 97 percent of the total aid inflow.


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