Mushikiwabo outlines foreign policy priorities for next fiscal year

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Mushikiwabo explains Foreign Affairs ministry Budget Estimates on Wednesday. / Timothy Kisambira

Rwanda’s relations with other countries have been improving over the last few years and government will do more to further promote bilateral cooperation.

Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo, who was on Thursday appearing before the parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony to present her ministry’s Budget Estimates for Financial Year 2017/18, talked of the Government’s commitment to strategically cultivate good foreign relations.

The ministry plans to spend slightly over Rwf38 billion in the next fiscal year, which will start in July and end in June next year.

The Government has agreed to allocate at least Rwf37 billion to the ministry and embassies abroad in the next fiscal year, but this leaves a budget deficit of nearly Rwf1 billion needed to fund wages and salaries at the ministry and expand diplomatic activities of embassies.

However, Mushikiwabo stressed that the available funds will still be used as efficiently as possible to achieve the goals “because there are never enough means and what matters is working towards achieving the targeted results.”

In the next fiscal year, the ministry will focus on routine activities under its mandate, including working closely with other government agencies to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the country, developing tourism, and increasing exports.

It will also move to increase air service agreements with different countries around the world to facilitate RwandAir’s flights, open a general consulate in Mozambique, and help fight global terrorism in partnership with regional and global partners.

The Government’s foreign policy will also promote unity and reconciliation programmes among members of the Diaspora community, promote Rwandan culture and values in the Diaspora, and facilitate them with Kinyarwanda learning.

Legislators at yesterday’s session welcomed the Government’s recent efforts to sign agreements with foreign governments in a number of areas that include trade cooperation and air space use and encouraged the minister to help the country’s diplomats remain informed about what is going on in the country if they are to promote it abroad and attract investments.

“Our diplomats don’t always seem to know well what’s going on in the country. They need to be helped spend more time at home here and make more tours around the country in order to gain better understanding of the opportunities that are available here,” said MP Théogène Munyangeyo.

MP Francesca Tengera said the Government should keep engaging Rwandans living abroad, especially students, in order to keep their minds connected back home so they can eventually contribute toward building their motherland.

Among other areas, the ministry’s mandate includes promoting the country’s image by engaging government officials, think tanks, private sector members, and regional and international media as well as enhancing Rwanda’s development through efficient and strategic partnerships, foreign direct investment and trade with the region and the world.

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