Ministers to be summoned to parliament over slow progress in poverty reduction

Women weed a potato garden in Musanze District. Sam Ngendahimana.

The chamber of deputies decided to summon the ministers of finance and infrastructure and that of health over slow poverty reduction observed between 2014 and 2017, as indicated in the fifth Integrated Household Living Condition Survey (EICV5).

The survey, whose findings were released in December last year, showed a dismal reduction in poverty levels within three years from 39.1 per cent in the 2013/14 fiscal year to 38.2 per cent in 2016/17.

The legislators want the ministers to explain verbally some identified issues that triggered poor reduction of poverty countrywide.  

They made the  resolution on Thursday during a plenary session in which lawmakers discussed findings from their tour to different parts of the country to assess government development programmes and their impact on communities.

Among the areas visited by the MPs during the month-long tour are trading centres and interacted with the population mainly to see if they have basic utilities like water, electricity, roads, micro finance institutions, health centers and markets, among others.

The exercise started on January 8 and concluded on February 16, 2019.

“Based on the findings of the research carried by EICV5 we wanted to know the causes of that low rate of poverty reduction. We have many strategies in place to change people’s lives and help communities develop but MPs cannot evaluate them at the same time. We focused on economic activities, welfare and infrastructure,” said Donatille Mukabalisa the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies.

Though Business Develop Fund (BDF) and Savings and Credit Cooperative Cooperatives (Imirenge SACCOs) are facilitating community development through savings and credit facilities, the lawmakers said they observed many issues which may cause people to remain in poverty.

“For BDF, the public does not know it and there seem to be a gap between the fund and the SACCOs. Besides BDF does not promptly assess presented projects to be funded which delays service delivery,” she explained.

BDF is a facility set up by government with the objective of assisting SMEs to access finance, particularly those without sufficient collateral to obtain credit from traditional financial institutions at reasonable rates.

“The SACCOs were also found to have high interest rates (24%) which keeps people away hence remain in poverty. Another issue is that SACCOs are not using technology which leads to poor service delivery and expose them to embezzlement. It was also discovered that people are losing trust for SACCO,” the speaker added.

The finance ministry was summoned also to explain long debts of Mutuelle de santé for Hospitals and health centers and Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) employees who do not work during weekends, which leads to poor service delivery.

The ministers of health and infrastructure were also summoned to shed light on different issues.

“The Minister for Infrastructure has to give an explanation on arrears in expropriation fees for people’s property destroyed to pave way for infrastructure projects like electricity, roads etc... He also has to present to parliament strategies in place to expedite the distribution of clean water and electricity,” said Edda Mukabagwiza, the Deputy Speaker in charge of Legal Affairs and Government Oversight.

The Minister of Health, Mukabagwiza said, will be summoned to give a clear plan in place to ensure that each of the 416 sectors of the country has a health centre.