Mamo Mihretu is seen as a champion of IMF and World Bank Policies by some but Ethiopian opposition parties are yet to remark on the appointment
This week, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed removed Yinager Dessie as governor of the national Bank of Ethiopia. It was on Friday the state media announced that the PM had appointed Mamo Mihretu as the new governor.
Yinager was confirmed as governor in June 2018 replacing Teklewold Atinafu. It was in Mr. Yinager’s tenure that Ethiopia introduced new bank notes – a process that was highly secretive. The project was given a secret code, as the Prime minister himself said soon after it was made public, to maintain secrecy.
He has also overseen the introduction of several regulatory policies in connection with private banks and crackdown on embezzled money from government coffers. The introduction of the new bank note itself was meant to reverse corruption.
A few months ago, a new policy to open up the banking sector to foreign investor’s was introduced under his watch but he was not seen embracing the change with enthusiasm. Rather he is on record warning that local banks might need to merge with the aim to withstand competition from expatriate giant banks.
As is the case with other removals from power, PM Abiy Ahmed’s administration did not say why Yinager Dessie had to be removed as governor of Ethiopia’s central bank.
The PM picked Mamo Mihretu to replace Yinager Dessie. He used to work for the World Bank and is said to be a champion of the World Bank and IMF’s vision of “market liberalization.” Some link him to the effort in deepening “privatization” in Ethiopia including to the plan, which seems to be rather simmering underneath now, to sell Ethiopian Airlines and EthioTelecom.
About a year or so ago, PM Abiy appointed him as CEO of Ethiopian Investment Holdings.
For some, he is known as an activist for IMF and World Bank policies. Some even link Abiy Ahmed’s decision for currency evaluation to Mr. Mamo who is said to be currently in the core of the PM’s team.
There are also views that point to the fact that the new appointee is a member of the ruling Prosperity Party and very close to PM Abiy Ahmed and that compromises neutrality( “Independence”) that is needed for the position. In fact, the outgoing governor was also a member of the ruling party. What makes the new governor a concern is his apparent allegiance with the IMF and World Bank. In fact, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is on record for depicting the World Bank as a “mother’s purse.”
On competence level, those who oppose the new governor point out that he lacks expertise and knowledge of macro-economic and finance – and does not have what it takes to lead the central bank in what is said to be trying times for Ethiopia. Mamo is a graduate of law and public policy from Harvard.
Anticipated changes are even worse devaluation schemes as per the prescriptions of the multilateral institutions.
There does not seem to be an opposition to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s decision as it relates to NBE appointments either from the official opposition parties or from parliamentarians.
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