« Where is Home? | Main | Continuing culture adjustments: Big »

July 13, 2007



Welcome back to boat-of-car-land!


You gonna make it near Lansing for a ride on an electric motorcycle?


This comment is regarding your post about the FAT. Just saw it and wasn't sure if you would go back and read comments. Forgive my response here.

You can call it FAT, but it means "Foreigner Added Tax" since ironically Ethiopian born foreign passport holders also have to pay such a premium (not only Ferenjis). Although I appreciate some of the arguments intellectually, it still pisses me off at an emotional level. Just because I happen to hold a US or EU or Kenyan passport (usually out of necessity) it does not mean I am not an Ethiopian. At least in other places like Egypt, where the same phenomena exist, they respect their fellow brethren and do not humiliate them in such a way. Yes it is a humiliation! Most Ethiopians with a foreign nationality would gladly give twice as much if the hotel or storeowner creatively asks for a donation or something; but to be asked to pay like a foreigner in your own country is a piss off, again on an emotional level.

I also don’t think they should be charging “real” foreigners the premium in a blatant and discriminatory way. I remember going to a museum in Harar. They actually had a sign at the entrance saying Foreigners $10Birr and Ethiopians $2 Birr. I told the attendant I would be happy to donate $50Birr and pay the $2Birr entrance. He says he empathize but couldn’t accept the $50 Birr donation because he has receipts for the $10 and $2 only. There was no mechanism to receive a donation and he didn’t want to be accused of taking a bribe.

Now lets consider the arguments for the FAT!

1. One argument is that the true value of a product or a services is whatever is charged to the foreigner. However, since most Ethiopians can’t afford such a price, private and government businesses discount the goods and services to the locals. This is hogwash. The government and private businesses in Ethiopia are not known for their generosity to the local folks. They simply saw an opportunity to charge a premium to foreigners and took advantage of the circumstances.

2. The other argument is that this is similar to what airlines do in the US. The business travelers and short-term travelers subsidize the rest of the passengers. One thing to keep in mind is that the business and short-term travelers are receiving a benefit or being penalized for booking at the last minute. The foreigners in Ethiopia are not getting any special benefit for paying the FAT.

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent!


The comments to this entry are closed.