BY SHIBERU TAMERAT | ABBAY MEDIA
The illegal outflow of foreign currency out of Ethiopia has gone up recently. Since the recent drop of the birr (Ethiopian currency) by 15% against the US dollar, the illegal flight of US dollar and the number of people attempting to smuggle US dollar out of the country have increased dramatically.
Mr. Mulugeta Beyene, Deputy Director of airport travel and custom said, after the recent devaluation of the Birr by 15%, the number of people attempting to illegally smuggle out foreign currency and the illegal outflow of foreign currency have increased significantly.
During his recent interview on the government-owned Fana Radio, the Deputy director Mr. Mulugeta indicated, the arrest they made in the last 15 days have led him to conclude, the illegal foreign currency smuggling operation is well organized and is very well executed.
Mr. Mulgeta added foreign currency was not the only item that is illegally smuggled out at the airport. Precious metals are also illicitly trafficked out of the country.
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An economist recently interviewed on ESAT (Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio) indicated the illicit foreign currency leaving Ethiopia is now reaching over US $3 billion dollars. This, the economist added, is a worrisome trend and Ethiopia is now among the top countries in Africa where illicit trafficking of foreign currency is a big problem.
The economist added the level of foreign currency flight from Ethiopia with the aid of officials in the government and their underlings is a sign of the mounting political crisis gripping the country as manifested by the daily protest of its citizens against the government.
The declining local currency and weak purchasing power, the skyrocketing price of consumer goods, raw materials, and manufacturing machines and the billions of dollars illegally leaving the country further exacerbate the already high cost of living that is spiraling out of control.