Berhane Belay is a retired school teacher in Woldiya in the Amhara
region of Ethiopia. Since he retired
from the classroom, he has watched the price of a quintal of teff surge from 400 birr to 1400 birr.
He says the cost of living is higher in Ethiopia, but "the country is making
"The government is doing all it can to build the economy,"
says Berhane. "The challenges today are tremendous and the government cannot
provide for all."
Berhane is among an estimated 30 million registered voters preparing
to cast May 23 ballots for who will make the laws and determine economic policy
in Ethiopia's parliament. Several of
those voters told to VOA the crucial decisions the successful candidates must
Teshome Zewdie, a young voter preparing to cast his first
ballot in a national election, will choose the party that he thinks will unite
the country and establish sound economic policies. "The economy matters," he
"We see roads and dams being built and the price of
commodities going up at the same time." Teshome says shortages in sugar and electric
supplies indicate that the government needs to do more to serve the people.
When the Ethiopian economy hit rock bottom with national
foreign currency reserves plummeting and inflation skyrocketing following the
global financial crisis, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said the country recovered
from what was a "perfect storm. We are now cleaning up house and collecting the
debris," Meles said.
The government limited borrowing, rounding public sector
borrowing to zero, and said those measures brought about a quick recovery.
Opposition politicians argue that Meles' analysis does not
sink with the realities in the country.
Voters will decide the future path of the Ethiopian economy
in less than three weeks.
Listen to this Amharic report