Addis Abeba, June 18/2019 – In an earlier piece for AS, I highlighted the need for empowered regional states in our federal arrangement so as to enable us ‘establish and sustain one economic community.’ The praxis of our federalism is hardly in sync with the constitutional promises of a truly self-governing structures in social, economic and political dimensions. The role of regional governments in looking after the socio-economic and political affairs of their people is dashed aside to the margins rendering them dependent on the ‘almighty’ center that, under the guise of building single economic community, controls the formulation and implementation of the country’s policies spanning every aspect of the body politic. I intend to briefly explain why true decentralization is one of the many long overdue reforms that the country ought to address.
Centralized Economy, Decentralized Poverty
It is desirable to pursue economic policies that embrace local conditions and endeavor to meet the needs of the people who are not only poor, but in relative terms, are getting poorer by the day. Creation of single economic community is excessively referenced to legitimize the central control of economic policy making that is supported by a relatively over-capacitated central bureaucracy. House of Federation has the mandate to propose laws that help establish and sustain one economic community for enactment by the House of Peoples’ Representatives. While an attempt is made to institutionalize a centralized economic policy making, implementation and monitoring infrastructure, it has not led to an overall improvement in well-being and livelihoods. As a result, the capacity to design sound policies for accelerated economic growth at regional level is highly undermined; poverty still remains ubiquitous; some experiencing it more than others.
Though there are a number of areas that call for genuine decentralization, I limit the discussions to three key areas for devolution of power to the respective regions having profound implication on empowering members of the federation.