Addis Ababa: Bambis Supermarket to close doors after 67 years-Due to hard currency shortage.

Addis Ababa: Bambis Supermarket to close doors after 67 years-Due to hard currency shortage.

(thereporterethiopia)—-Bambis Supermarket – one of the oldest serving supermarkets in Addis Ababa– is on verge of shutting down its operations due to mounting frustrations caused by hard currency shortage and administrative hurdle.

Charalambos N. Tsimas (best known as Bambis), a Greek national and owner/manager of the supermarket, said that he has been continuously humiliated by government officials.

He told The Reporter of his frustrations which is compounded by the recent severe shortage of hard currency. He said, he has been waiting since March last year to get access to foreign currency for the importation of food stuffs which he provides mostly to his expatriate customer base. “We serve diplomatic communities and I can’t say I don’t have rice or table salt. It’s humiliating”.

In addition, he further highlighted issues regarding the procedures and follow-up activities of the Food, Medicine and Health Care Administration and Control Authority (FMHACA) and his recent problem with the authority regarding the importation of pasta and juice products to the country.

According to the businessman, he was ordered to have a laboratory test for the imported food items and was directed to go to Bless Agri Food Laboratory Services PLC for testing and calibrations. According to Bambis, the pay demanded by the laboratory was utterly “outrageous”.

He said, there no justifiable reason to pay 146,000 birr for laboratory testing done on 15,000 kilos of pasta (one container) purchased for 9,400 euros equivalent to 319,600 birr. He also denounced the 57,000 birr additional payment the laboratory requested for testing his juice.

The laboratory downplays Bambis’s claims of “an exaggerated payment for testing”.

Yonatan Mengesha, technical director of Bless Agri Food Laboratory Services, told The Reporter that the stated payments are not “outrageous” as it is claimed by the seasoned commodities trader. He says the laboratory has received 18 verities of pastas each needing nine testing parameters. Had it not been for the variety of the products, the service price would not have been that high. “We did the sample tests as requested by the regulatory agency. We assume there is a gap in understanding the testing procedures and how it works,” he added.

For Bambis, it was not the right answer he was looking for; and he says “Ethiopia was not like this before. Ethiopia has been a queen of Africa but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.”

Six years ago, he has been admitted to a hospital following the controversial 86 million birr tax claims the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs authority (ERCA) had on Bambis. Nevertheless, Bambis has been linked with other controversial trade activities since coming head to head with the nation’s tax authority.


Top Ethiopian supermarket to shut down over bottlenecks, forex squeeze

(africanews) — An Ethiopian supermarket reputed for serving expatriate and diplomatic community in the capital Addis Ababa is closing down its operations after close to seven decades.

Ethiopia’s The Reporter newspaper quotes owner of Bambi’s supermarket as saying foreign exchange squeeze coupled with administrative bottlenecks were to blame for his decision.

According to Charalambos Tsimas, a Greek national who owns the supermarket, he has been waiting since March last year to get access to foreign currency for the importation of food stuffs which he provides mostly to his customers.

Ethiopia was not like this before. Ethiopia has been a queen of Africa but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

“We serve diplomatic communities and I can’t say I don’t have rice or table salt. It’s humiliating,” he is quoted to have said. He further bemoaned what he said was unnecessarily high testing fees for some of his imports.

“Ethiopia was not like this before. Ethiopia has been a queen of Africa but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore,” he stressed. The newspaper, however, notes that the business is not a stranger to controversy.

It has in the past been mired in tax disagreements with federal authorities, which incident led the owner to be hospitalized in 2012.

In December 2017, the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) initiated processes to better regulate foreign exchange transactions and weaken the black market.

According to a new directive, importers are obliged to request for foreign currency from the NBE based on the international prices of their imports.

The central bank’s chief economist and its vice governor Yohanes Ayalew, confirmed that the directive had been circulated to commercial banks and was already being enforced.

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