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National Bank of Ethiopia Defying Government Proclamation 270/2002

By Berhe Hagos berhe@telia.com Sweden
Tigrai Onlne - May 06, 2014

I read an article in Waltainfo.com that heads as “Standard Bank to Open Ethiopian Office”.  If this is true, then the foreign bank must have some information that others do not have. Bank ownership in Ethiopia is legally closed to foreign ownership, meaning only Ethiopians are allowed to have ownership and operations in the financial sector. In the context of Ethiopians, the government has found a compromise to include all Ethiopians in Diaspora, including those with foreign pass with the proclamation 270/2002. The only requirement is to have the so called “Yellow ID Card” from the respective Embassy of Ethiopia.

Proclamation 270/2002 provides Foreign Nationals (meaning anyone with foreign Pass) of Ethiopian origin with certain Rights to be exercised in their Country of Origin.  All exceptions are noted in paragraph 6 of this proclamation with two exceptions. A person with Yellow ID Card:

  • Shall have no right to Vote or be elected to any office at any level of Government.
  • Shall have no right to be employed on regular basis in the National Defense, Security, Foreign Affairs and other similar political establishments.

It is a genial move from the government to include the Ethiopians in Diaspora this way, because this will boost the financial sector by a huge amount of remittance from abroad if the NBE, (The National Bank of Ethiopia), was not on the way.

This proclamation is making exceptions to all Ethiopians with foreign pass but with Yellow ID, to invest, work, and dwell in the country, with full Rights as any Ethiopian citizen. This being the case NBE has become a big block by not tailoring its rules and regulations in accordance to proclamation 270/2002. NBE is breaching proclamation 270/2002 which provides foreign Nationals of Ethiopian Origin with the Rights to be exercised in their Country of Origin. This is hampering funds flowing from Diaspora to the motherland, where both the motherland and the Diaspora investor could have benefited.

Despite the fact that this proclamation does not hinder Ethiopians with the Yellow ID-card to invest in the finance sector (with the exceptions in paragraph 6 of the proclamation), NBE continues to adamantly follows the old policy and proclamation which prohibits foreigners in general from investing and operating in the financial sector. This is a breach of the stated Proclamation and a defiance of the law.  Among others provisions NBE is defying the following paragraphs in the proclamation:

15) Any Laws, regulations, directives, decisions or procedural practices shall not be applicable in so far as they are not consistent with this proclamation.

16) Any concerned office or person shall extend the necessary assistance in the implementation of this proclamation.

This defiance has created a great deal of confusion in Banks and Insurance companies that have registered many Ethiopians with Yellow ID cards as investors and shareholders. In fact some have been advised to aquire “illegal” IDs from “Kebeles” simply, to satisfy the old laws and directions of NBE.

I am hoping this article will deliver this message to all concerned and to the proper Authority and thereby get it corrected.  Ethiopia is losing foreign currency in millions due to this mismatch in the regulations.

Finally, I appeal to Foreign Minister, H.E Dr. Tedros and H.E Dr. Debretsion , responsible for financial co-ordination for the government, to take action as soon as possible.

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