ETHIOPIA – A committee formed by experts, from trade and consumer protection bodies in a bid to reduce the ever-growing food inflation in Ethiopia became operational as of February 9, 2018.

It was formed by a high-level committee that was established by the Prime Minister’s Office back in November, composed of teams from the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), Ministry of Trade (MoT), Ministry of Industry, Trade Competition & Consumers Protection Authority (TCCPA).

This comes after food inflation reached 18% the last month, while headline inflation was at 13.4%.

The former had shown a decrease but remains at one of its highest points since the El Nino-induced draught, three years ago, according to the Central Statistical Agency (CSA).

The committee will study the sources of the shortages and inflation and proceeds to the next level which can range from issuing a written warning to suspending licenses and filing a legal suit.

“Although we were unable to take measures against businesses, as there was already scarcity of specific food items the past week, where agricultural goods could not enter the city, the team has been doing some preliminary work,” Echisa Dame, Director of Trade Information at the Authority told Fortune.

“We have been actively controlling a rise in prices and scarcity of food items,” said Kassahun Beyene, Director of the Inspection & Regulatory Directorate at the Addis Abeba Trade Bureau.

The committee will submit weekly surveys to the higher one, chaired by Mekonnen Manyazewal, International Trade Negotiation Affairs adviser to the Prime Minister, every Monday.

The committee will launch investigations to take corrective measures against businesses in the brewery, soft drink, agro-processing and coffee markets, according to Kassahun.

Commenting on the issue, Atlaw Alemu (PhD), an economist said, “Unless the government mobilises its efforts to tighten the money supply and increase the chain of supply, the current figures will not improve,”

“The government should cease printing cash to fill its temporary economic gaps”.

The headline inflation was 13.2%, 0.2% less than last month’s figure.