Tuesday, April 23, 2024
HomeOpinionUnprecedented Economic Data Fabrication Threatens the Survival of Ethiopia

Unprecedented Economic Data Fabrication Threatens the Survival of Ethiopia

Infographic from the web ( vecteezy.com)

Yonas Biru, PhD

As one who has spent his professional life at the World Bank working on global economic comparison, I am keenly aware that nations manipulate their data for various reasons. Such activities are often rampant during election years. I am also aware that some nations have two datasets – one is what they use for policy making and another for the World Bank and IMF. I know firsthand that China and Russia do this. Russia inflates its GDP. China intentionally undervalues its figures. Russia wants to put itself in the top ten Economies of the world. China wants to continue its growth under the West’s radar screen.

A recent study that used satellite data to monitor economic activities estimated autocratic nations exaggerate their nation’s yearly GDP growth by about 35% relative to democratic nations (China is an exception). The author of the study was Luis Martinez of the University of Chicago. For those who may not know, when it comes to economic studies, University of Chicago is what Harvard wants to be when it grows up. Martinez noted “The crucial difference is that in a democracy you have a whole network of checks and balances that restrains this behavior somewhat.”

Data fabrication is bad for any economy. The situation in Ethiopia is far worse. The government lies not only to the international community and to its citizenry, but also to itself. When the country needs to declare a state of economic emergency and develop appropriate policy sets, the government is dancing to its own barrage of lies and touting Ethiopia as the top economic performer in Africa.

In democratic nations, members of Parliament serve as economic gatekeepers. They challenge false data and demand access to the raw data to recompute government aggregated data. Our parliamentarians know two things: clapping and giggling as the Prime Minister feeds them false economic data that they know to be grossly exaggerated if not outright fabricated.  

Not long ago, the Ethiopian government was touting an IMF projection of 13.5 percent growth for 2023. At the time I blogged a short commentary, stating anyone who is remotely familiar with economics knows that a 13.5 projection is bad fiction. Not long after, IMF projection was cut by 55 percent to 6.1 percent. I wrote again the IMF will revise it downward because the 6.1 percent growth is weaved out of thin air.

Currently, the Central Statistical Agency (CAS) of Ethiopia and the PM Abiy government are at loggerheads about the state of the Economy. The 2020 Household Expenditure and Income Survey that the CAS produced shows the worsening of the nation’s economic situation. It takes two years to compile, edit, and verify such data before publication. They are often published with significant time lags.

The government has blocked the publication of the data. In its stead it wants CAS to publish data fabricated by government cadres. The professionals who are in charge of the Survey and the publication of its results refused to publish fabricated data that is at war with the reality on the ground. Another area of contention is the fictional data that the government wants to publish about wheat production and export. Here also CSA professionals refused to publish fabricated wheat data.

How can a government lie about its export? Ethiopia’s export data can easily be cross checked against import data published by those who imported from Ethiopia. This is the problem when a nation is run by mature clowns with a propensity to feign prosperity.

Experts in CAS know you cannot lie about export data. Their professional integrity and knowledge about the consequences of publishing fabricated data do not allow them to go along to get along with the government. They stood firm and pushed back against the government’s pressure and threats with termination. Consequently, the government is in the process of firing experienced professionals and replacing them with inexperienced cadres who are readily available to discharge fabricated data.

The IMF will take such fictional figures as legitimate data and project a new growth figure. God knows how high it will be. May be back to 13.5 percent, or TPLF’s favorite number of 11 percent. Two years ago, the Prime Minister declared on national TV that Ethiopia will be one of the two superpowers in the world by 2050.  He did not say whether it will be Ethiopia and the US or Ethiopia and China who will dominate the world come 2050.

For Ethiopia to overtake the US by 2050, it needs to grow at a compounded rate of 21 percent every single year. That will not be enough. It will need to register zero inflation rate and no devaluation of its currency. Its population growth must be checked not to impact per capita estimates. That is not all. The US must grow at zero percent to let Ethiopia catch up and overpass it.

On the military sphere, Field Marshal Berhanu Jula must find it possible to get nuclear power, aircraft carriers, and nuclear-powered submarines. We must also take our global responsibility seriously.  We must move the World Bank and IMF to Addis and appoint Mamo Mihretu and Ahmed Shide as President and Managing Director, respectively, of the World Bank and IMF. Sweden, Russia, and Canada that have been generous to us in the past must be on top of our international aid program to help their economies grow.

Please do not think my intention is to ridicule the Prime Minister. I am just putting flesh on the bones of the Prime Minister’s economic plan for 2050. In so doing I am showing the utter stupidity that has become the trademark of our government. I am spending time on this because it is the single most existential threat to the country.

Economic collapse is dangerous in a country such as ours where the political situation is polarized along tribal lines. It is one thing to liberally lie about the number of trees planted. It is another to cover up a collapsing economy with fabricated data.

I feel sorry for Mamo Mihretu and Ahmed Shide. They are quietly sitting in the car driven by the Prime Minister without putting on their seatbelt hoping to eject themselves as the Prime Minister speeds toward a cliff. Oblivious to their panic, the Prime Minister is praising the Lord about Ethiopia’s ascent toward becoming a superpower.

Our Most Gracious Father, the Creator of all things, saints, and clowns alike. You have delivered us from the idiocy of Tigrayan exceptionalism. Our Heavenly Father, we come unto ye again with prayers to deliver us from the stupidity of Oromummaa. Oh Lord, save us from our self-anointed prophets and apostles. Relieve them oh Lord of the plight of Abiyonomics that thrives of lies and for lies. Give your power of healing to our earthly master whose mother has throned him as our seventh king. Relieve our Prime Minister of himself for he is enamored with his lies that are driving him toward the cliff of demise. 

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com  


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  1. What? Who, what? All of us will pray for you so you can regain you lost mind. Why don’t you tell it as it is supposed to be. The reason you write all these negative articles against the Abiy regime is because you were ignored by the government. And you understand why they did that. You would have been more of a liability than an asset. You are ‘intelligent’ enough to understand that.

  2. Shameful article compiled by a so called “PHD”
    holder. This “phd ” holder is in his night dream of restoring supremacy of the so called “amhara” ,the non existent society name over the country called utopia. What stupid phd holder is this ?
    He must have received his phd from Region 3 public service university.
    He is in deep sickness hearing of oromoo and oromumma .He is also in a very hateful situation of tegaru with comparable to Devil, like his father phetros. His dream “Ethiopia” will not come to existence again. It is exitnct
    once and forever .According to this writer,The creator of earth and heaven including all the planets was working with his great grandfathers.The world religion was also given by “amhara ” which was also a fabricated society like the” data” this stupid”phd”holder has written.
    Stupidity cannot be healed whether the stupid is educated in western top universities or baptized in Jordan river. That is why we call them donkeys (kotte duudaas).
    Stupid is always the same from birth to death, wherever his/her domicile may be.
    We have noticed same stupid groups/stupid brothers of this stupid writer/ gathered In DC waging war on Ethiopia during the last few months . Gathering of stupid will not bring any change.

  3. Don’t blame Abiy altogether, he inherited it from his predecessors. Read the chronicles of the kings and the Derg’s propaganda. Once the US categorized Meles’ regime as “a lier government”. Check what is written on social media and you will find lies about everything, ethnic, religious, political, and fable-like history from every sort of people.

  4. Check what is written on social media and you will find lies about everything, ethnic, religious, political, and fable-like history from every sort of people.
    Don’t blame Abiy altogether. He inherited it from his predecessors. Read the chronicles of the kings and the Derg’s propaganda. Once the US categorized the Meles’ regime as “a lier government”. check out what is written on social media and you easily get lies about everything, -ethnic, political,religious, history that seems a fable- and that is From all sort of people and organizations.

  5. You spent your time in World Bank. Tell us what you contributed for the country? Before blaming people, you have to blame yourself.

  6. Dr. Yonas, why is it any surprise to you [‘WB economist’] even if Ethiopia’s economy bites the dust? Abiy kept Ethiopia afloat against all odds: drought, locust, IDPs, COVID, WSW*/Egypt-backed Proxy Wars, WSW’s embargo, WSW’s aid/loan/trade repeal, etc.

    እንድያው – “ያጣ ለማኝ – ተሳድቦ ይኼዳል!” ሆኖቦት ነው እንጂ – ከመቼ ወዲህ ነው ደግሞ እርሶ የኢትዮጵያ ተቆርቋሪ የሆኑት? እርሶ ለኢትዮጵያ ምን አድርገውላት ያውቃሉ? አብይን – “ከWB ጋር አማልደኝ” – ብለውት – ጣልቃ ስላልገባ ነው – ይኼን ሁሉ የስም ማጠልሸት ዘመቻ የከፈቱበት?

    Dr. Yonas እና Ethio 360 Muppet Show ላይ – ክራቫት ያሰረው እና መነፅር ያረገው ጉጉት (owl) ይገርማሉ! ጉጉቱ – ከአማራ እና ከኦሮሞ የተወለዱትን – “ ‘ክልስ’ አላቸው! ” አሉ! እንዴ – እራሱን ምን ብሎ ሊጠራ ነው? ኢትዮጵያ እንዲህ ዓይነት አሰዳቢ እህል-ፈጅ ተምቾች ከዬት አመጣች?

    WSW*: White Supremacist West

  7. Ruff! Ruff!! Ruff!! Oromummaa!!!
    Ruff! Ruff!! Ruff!!! Fano!

    These two were at it again. They were out there in front of my grocery store. They had set up two barricades, one for OLA Oromummaa and the other one was manned by Fano. They were there just to harass me. I know what OLA and Oromummaa mean but I was not sure about Fano. So I called one of my Amhara friends and he told me that the word Fano is a shortened(romanticized) derivative from the 1950’s commie named Frantz Fanon. That guy was someone you couldn’t ‘mess with’ until he found out his commie behind was in serious trouble in 1960. Then he pleaded to Good Ole USA ‘please save me’. That is all commies end up doing. First they claim to be at war footing with USA and the West. They even go to the bushes fighting. Then at a later date when they discover that the ‘Socialist’ Shangri-La they were intoxicated with is nothing but a fantasy, they eat their crow and stretch out their begging hands. Just look at Vietnam. Commies there took the bushes and in the process more than 3 million innocent and cheated civilians perished. Just 4 years after Good Ole USA told them they could have it and left the commies made and a 360 degrees turnaround and begged USA to save their commie behind because the other commie in Beijing was beating them unconscious in 1979. USA, please save my ass and USA saved their commie behind. Then later on those commies who used to blabber with ‘Down with imperialism’ made another walk back and begged USA to come back and open factories. They look at you with a straight face and lie to you. They are disgustingly dirty. Commie, commies, commies! Do I have nothing but utter disdain for them.

  8. 11 milliards dollars was what the last emperor supposedly hid in a Swiss bank according to one of DERG’s lame propaganda. Ethiopia knew millions and billions for numbers but what was milliards? Some said a milliard is a thousand billions while others believed it got to be a thousand trillions, still others thought it was in French. The educated class didn’t believe that piece of propaganda bc it didn’t make any sense. That much money, trillions or billions, where did it come from? But they were afraid to say anything on media. The radical students didn’t correct that cooked-up number either for obvious reasons.

    Cooking up numbers for propaganda purposes became the norm since 1974. On a televised comedy show from the National Theatre a skinny guy called Tamagn Beyene joked that he had been listening to TPLF radio and was adding up the numbers of soldiers that separatist party claimed to have killed. He said he had reached to the conclusion that that rebel group must be borrowing some from the future generation bc the number of soldiers it claimed to have killed has surpassed the total population of present day Ethiopia.

    Dr. Yonas was on some media not long ago when the host posted a translation of a speech by some extremist in power on full screen and read from it. Dr. Yonas said he couldn’t use that piece of evidence. The verified recording on tape was available yes but not THAT. And not long after or before that Sissay Agena doubted Dr. Yonas’s hard evidence on EMS. That was surprising bc Sissay was known to dig deep for evidences and should’ve heard that speech himself on ETV.

    A few years back Sissay and Tamagn were having a relaxed chat on ESAT. Tamagn was getting agitated bc Sissay was asking him annoying questions when he should know the answers to all of them. Back then the two were on the same side and Sissay was just playing the devil’s advocate and teasing Tamagn. In those days Tamagn’s clips from his laptop were simply the best. Are one of them still playing the devil’s advocate? EMS is beamed in Ethiopia through a private TV and that might be very important for now. Nobody really knows how many YouTube channels are out there. Some of them have extremely high number of subscribers for the poor quality. SEBER ZENA gets too old in a matter of hours in Ethiopia and they all scramble to be the first. But in their hurry they rarely spell the half-sentence-long titles right. And it’s almost impossible to miss-spell in Amharic.

    Amharic/Geez joined the digital world relatively early. But the programmers didn’t come together and standardize it. And there were a lot of Ethiopian programmers re-inventing the wheel. The wheel didn’t necessarily get any better. Sometimes the new ones were worse than the previous versions. Millions of hours must have gone wasted by unknown number of Ethiopian programmers since Windows 3.1. But definitely not milliards of hours.

    Are computer programmers considered intellectuals? They sure know their stuff and the talented ones have made milliards of dollars in the digital revolution-depending on how much a milliard is. Who are the ‘intellectuals’? Sir Isaac Newton supposedly wrote a lot BS on religion but his friends won’t publish it after his death bc they were embarrassed for him. He knew his physics though. Intellectuals might be trained in a specific field but they take other courses since they were undergrads and they read other stuff, too. Usually good schools produce a better quality intellectuals but there are some exceptions to the rule. Getting accepted in good schools, even when you want to pay your way, is really hard, bc they have a minimum standard. Getting academic scholarship in one of those very good schools is a totally different story. But the question here is: Do our intellectuals look like our computer programmers that couldn’t agree on one single standardized Geez for computers? There are an group of intellectuals or two that present papers once a year to each other but not in ESL.

  9. ESL is what Dr. Yonas Biru has been using for more than two decades when he wants regular Ethiopians to hear him. I suspect Abeselom can be his other/middle/baptismal name and may be he remembered that when he knew he was being cocky. The intellectual Ethiopians met at the monthly Ethiopian Review or Ethiopian Register which published articles in English and Amharic in those days.

    Koki Abeselome predicted a coming war b/n TPLF and EPLF and was laughed at. But that prediction turned out to be accurate. Most of our intellectuals seemed to be victims of TPLF’s propaganda–to the very propaganda of the very TPLF they were fighting against with their pens. They were stuck in the rumor of Issayas Afeworki giving Ethiopia ‘a home work that will take a hundred years to make’. The articles in those magazines introduced the credentials of the writer each and every time as footnote and they were impressive. Understandably most were still not convinced Eritrea’s referendum was just and fair.

    In reality the Ethiopian Army was gone for good. The late Gen Hussen Ahmed and his deputy Gen Abdulahi, both with impressive war records, had left Eritrea in a copter when they learned colonel Mengistu had fled to Zimbabwe. All of Ethiopian generals that had survived Mengistu’s executions on multiple occasions and had nothing to do with politics were in jail. And yet some intellectuals still believed things could be revisited but didn’t specify by whom or how. The Amharic section turned from articles to poems of sorrow sometimes. There were some rare efforts to lobby the US gov’t by a few determined people who used their own money. Writers believed President Issayas was ruling over Ethiopia from Asmara with a remote control.

    Koki Abeselome presented evidence to counter that wrong belief. US gov’t chose TPLF over EPLF to send troops for UN peace keeping missions all over Africa, for one. A dozen of Tigrayan and Eritrean ‘intellectuals’ formed a group to publish a magazine together but went to verbal wars against each other before the second edition was printed. The Tigrayans publishing it w/o the Eritreans and the Ethiopian GYR colors all over the cover of that magazine’s 2nd edition anyways, for evidence number two.

    The evil genius TPLF hoisted the original Ethiopian flag and played Mahmoud’s patriotic music from 1977 on the radio all day to mobilize and gather support for the useless war that consumed about a hundred thousand in a very short time. Ethiopians realized they were played, but only too late. Koki Abeselome and very few others who advised against getting involved in that war didn’t say ‘I told you so’.

    A hundred thousand was a huge number until over a million Ethiopians died after TPLF attacked the northern command of ENDF in early Nov of 2020. TPLF’s Samri killed hundreds of Amhara and other non-Tigre civilian Ethiopians at Mai Kadra and fled to Sudan. Ethiopians were angry and mobilized and Eritreans helped and in less than three weeks of fighting TPLF was chased out of all the towns in Tigray and Mekelle. At that time the civilian Dr. Yonas advised against taking over Mekelle town. Again his worst fear came true in June 2021. But Dr Yonas Biru didn’t say ‘I told you so’.

    At the risk of sounding like a personality cult-starter or a groupie:

    Dr Yonas of Sarbaet in Addis, who went to a public high school named in memory of a certain resistance fighter during the Italian fascist occupation of five years, Shimelis Habte, should never get another chance to say ‘I told you so’ again. Even though he might never say those words.

    Dr. Yonas’s predictions and warnings turned out to be accurate since 1998, chances are his manifestos and suggestions for solutions might be sound. And I heard him say he was writing a book but didn’t specify. I’ll read that book; and I hope I won’t be crying over the spilled milk when I read it.


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