The Ministry of Justice (MINIJUST) has given two weeks to people and institutions who owe the government money on cases it won to pay. Beginning September, bailiffs will start executing court judgments.
The move comes after it was realised that many defaulters have been reluctant to pay.
Justice Minister and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye, said that over Rwf2 billion is owed to the government and that it is partly the government’s fault for not aggressively following up on the defaulters.
So far, there are some 500 cases for which MINIJUST has collected information including the identity of the defendants or their relatives so as to ease the payment of the arrears.
“After many years, we have realised that on the government’s side, we seem to have had a culture of not asking for the payment of such money. On the side of the person who has been ordered to pay, there seem to have been a culture of not paying,” he noted.
“We think that it is a mentality issue and we have changed it,’ he said.
“If people do not pay amicably, law enforcement will ensue. We will sign agreements with 90 bailiffs to execute judgments for cases that have been tried and become law,” he said.
He noted that the Ministry has started to publish on its website, the list of people who owe the Government money with their comprehensive identification.
Credit Reference Bureau, BNR to help recover money
The Minister noted that MINIJUST had opted to work with the private sector and government organs like the Credit Reference Bureau and the Central Bank.
He also added that various mechanisms will be used like blocking the transfer of property of defaulters and using various institutions that offer government services not to offer any to defaulters before they pay.
“That means, once the person goes to pay taxes to RRA; the tax body will tell them that they owe money to the government by court order. Go and settle the debt and come back to us, then we offer you any service,” he said.
He however said that MINIJUST encourages people who owe the money to pay amicably to avoid incurring additional cost to the bailiffs.
The Justice Minister added that the government recovered over Rwf47 million without necessitating court proceedings.
For people who might not have the capacity to pay, Busingye said MINIJUST was preparing a law that will give those people a choice of carrying out public works over a given period of time.
On the issue of money that the Government owes people for cases in which the Government lost, Busingye noted that the government will pay.