Trade Ministry in works to revitalize chambers of commerce law

Ministry of Trade and Regional Integration (MoTRI) drafts a proclamation to amend a two decade old controversial law for the establishment of the chambers of commerce. The description document that Capital reviewed indicated that membership will be mandatory for businesses, and companies, who have multiple branches throughout the country, and failure to do so will mean removal from being a member of the city chamber.
The chamber of commerce and sectorial association establishment proclamation 341/2003 which was last ratified two decades ago has been criticized by different stakeholders. Multiple papers and studies have been developed on the aim to improve the proclamation and government on its end has also facilitated several discussions to better the proclamation.
The description document which was issued by MoTRI also acknowledged the same and cited that the document read that prior to and after ratification of the proclamation, it did not get consent from the business community hence the stir of controversy.
Organization structure, membership, representation, powers and duties, were some of the areas that were identified as sources of debate.
The document added that the proclamation should be amended on the consideration of the sector benefit, the global situation and economic growth.
In order to solve the challenges and make the chambers fruitful and helpful to the economic growth and congruent with government policies and other laws, the new coming proclamation has been drafted.
The draft highlighted that the various controversial points in the current proclamation will be addressed.
For instance, it said that membership should be mandatory for all business operating in the country. Currently, that is not the case.
However, in the Derg era chamber membership was a mandatory, while it was left open in the emperor and EPRDF reign.
The description document argues that non-mandatory membership has affected the chamber in terms of capacity, revenue and in terms of contribution to the economic sector, while those who are not members of the chamber benefit equally to members, which is unfair.
“If the membership is made mandatory all members will benefit fairly and chambers will be a firm and strong arm for the business community,” the document read.
It added that a strong chamber with inclusive membership mutually benefits the government since it is easy to communicate with the business community through a single umbrella regarding dissemination of new policies, laws and regulations.
Strong and organized business representation will also be developed and provided for constructive input on government laws.
The formation of a council has also been recommended on the draft proclamation. The document described that the establishment of a council will be implemented under a national chamber which shall have a potential to solve problems mentioned regarding representations.
The document has also recommended for the chamber of commerce to be established independently and the business community or individuals to be members directly on the city or woreda chamber while regarding companies’ membership, a detailed directive is to be ratified by MoTRI.
However, it has been recommended for companies to become members on either city or woreda chambers that they operate in; and that for companies who have branches in more than one region to be a member on the national chamber.
The document has also recommended for the sectoral association to be formed as a separate entity.

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