ADDIS ABABA, March 23– Ethiopia is benefiting from the drop in oil prices on the international market with savings of one billion US dollars on oil purchases over the past eight months, according to the Ministry of Trade.

Previously, in order to make oil products affordable for the public, the government had been was to subsidize prices with the a total of more than six billion Birr (about 294 million USD) in subsidies being spent by the government over the past decade, State Minister for Trade Ali Siraj told the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) over the weekend.

The ever increasing price of petroleum products negatively affected the economic growth of Ethiopia, forcing it to spend more and more foreign currency on subsidies, he said.

The country had been spending “almost all of the foreign currency” it earned from exports of products to purchase petroleum products, when the money should have been invested on other endeavours, he added.

“In (Ethiopian calendar) 2006 budget year (which ended on Sept 10, 2014) alone, we spent 3.0 billion USD on petroleum products out of the 3.2 billion USD we earned from export of all items,” he said

For a country dependent on imported petroleum products like Ethiopia, the price decline had created the opportunity to spend the revenue on other areas, he said.