Members of the Third Lower House took the oath of office yesterday, marking the beginning of a five-year term – a period during which Rwanda hopes to leap into the ranks of middle-income economies.
The 80-member Chamber of Deputies will be instrumental in bringing about reforms that are instrumental in delivering the highly ambitious second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction (EDPRS II) which would have a significant impact on the livelihoods of the ordinary Rwandans.
While a raft of reforms in the past has helped maintain an impressive economic growth rate year on year, structural improvements will be needed if the country is going to pull off an average two-digit GDP growth rate over the next five years.
The recent IMF’s growth forecast for the next four years which scaled down the government’s average real GDP growth projections to 7.4 per cent is a reminder that to deliver the desired progress we must go an extra mile and Parliament will be critical in this.
The House, with a world record 64 per cent women representation, will also be expected to help the country sustain its development pace beyond 2015, the global deadline for the eight Millennium Development Goals, five of which Rwanda has either achieved or is on course to achieving.
MPs must ensure that Rwanda remains a top investor friendly country and a tourism destination of choice, by not only guaranteeing a conducive legal framework but also making sure that these laws and policies are implemented accordingly.
Quality education is another area the Third Parliament should constantly look into, by particularly emphasising on imparting of knowledge and skills that respond to the needs of labour market.
We cannot hope to create 200,000 jobs annually without curricula that meet the ever changing demands of the world of work.
The legislators should also play an active role in fostering the East African Community (EAC) integration process by expediting the necessary legal reforms with view to ensuring the country honours its obligations to the Community.
Crime is another area the Honourable members must closely look into, particularly on such emerging crimes as human trafficking and cybercrimes, with a view to ensuring appropriate deterrent measures.
We congratulate the members of the incoming Chamber of Deputies but there is no time for honeymoon; each of them should roll up their sleeves and get down to business.