Members of Parliament (MPs) have started conducting field visits in all districts of the country, to oversee the hospitality industry development as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) factories established for export promotion. The field visits, organised by the Chamber of Deputies, run from May 27 to June 3 in four provinces of the country; and from June 10 to 11 in the City of Kigali, according to a press release issued by Parliament on May 27. As part of the exercise, MPs will visit projects and activities related to the above-mentioned two sectors, which the Lower House underscored contribute to the country's economic growth. The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Mukabalisa Donatille, said that the visits are based on the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) target regarding the development of industry and services sectors, with the aim to achieve 17 per cent [increase] of the country's exports [annually]. Also, she said, they will look at hotels and lodges. Concerning industrialisation, we will focus on small and medium enterprises, mainly those making export products in order to see whether we can bridge the gap between the exports and imports. We will assess their performance, the challenges they are facing, or whether the products they are making can be competitive on the international market in line with our goal to make quality products, she said. ALSO READ: Rwanda’s exports revenue grows, trade deficit widens Rwanda's merchandise trade deficit -- or the amount by which the country's export revenues were exceeded by import bill -- increased by 20.7 per cent in 2022, as it widened to more than $2.4 billion from $2 billion in 2021, according to the Monetary Policy and Financial Stability Statement of March 2023, by the National Bank of Rwanda. The publication indicated that this was the case because Rwanda’s merchandise exports -- excluding gold -- receipts increased by 33.2 per cent in 2022 amounting to more than $1.5 billion, up from more than $1.1 billion a year before, while merchandise imports went up by 26.9 per cent, amounting to $4 billion from $3.2 billion in 2021. It explained that the increase in export earnings was due to increased global commodity prices and good performance of domestic manufacturing exports. For the rise in imports, it said it resulted from the higher international commodity and fuel prices, combined with the increased demand for imported goods and services to support the continued economic recovery [from the Covid-19 pandemic], it indicated. Speaking to The New Times, the Deputy Speaker in charge of parliamentary affairs at the Chamber of Deputies, Edda Mukabagwiza, said that the services sector -- of which the hospitality industry is part – and the industry sector are important to the country’s economic development, including the recovery from the Covid-19 impact, if given the required support. For instance, she said that the services sector output rose by 12 per cent in 2021-2022, according to the National Bank of Rwanda's report [for the fiscal year 2021/2022], mainly thanks to the tourism sub-sector growth. ALSO READ: Rwanda tourism revenue more than doubled to $445m in 2022 Also, she said, the industry sector contributed 21 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022, a significant increase compared to 16.5 per cent in 2017, according to the report by the National Bank of Rwanda. She pointed out that MPs as people who have the responsibility to oversee Government actions, should look at the two sectors to ensure that their potential is maximised for the benefit of the citizens and national development. Meanwhile, the visits will also be an opportunity for MPs to receive issues or queries of citizens from their daily lives that are not attended to, and to carry out the advocacy to the competent authorities to resolve them. Normally, all MPs carry out oversight activities by visiting all districts at least twice a year to assess the implementation of government programmes and engage the citizens to ensure they participate in the development of their districts.