MPs want government to fix Rwf137bn funding deficit

Members of the Parliament follow presentation of the report yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana.

MPs yesterday requested government to address a funding gap of Rwf137 billion in the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, arguing that some of the activities for which the money is needed are very urgent.

The recommendation was made after members of the parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony in the Lower Chamber of Parliament presented their analysis of the Budget Framework Paper (BFP) for the next three fiscal years running from 2019/20 to 2021/22.

Presenting their feedback in the presence of the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Uzziel Ndagijimana, the legislators recommended that the Government continues to mobilise funds in order to fund the urgent projects that were left out in the budget planning for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

The chairperson of the committee, Omar Munyaneza, said that urgent activities for which the Government needs more funding are in different sectors, including education, health, agriculture, and water and sanitation infrastructure.

“We feel that consideration should be made for different funding gaps and where possible efforts to take care of them should continue throughout the medium-term planning,” he told Parliament.

But the MP said that the Minister for Finance had agreed to look into the funding gaps and ensure that they are addressed where possible.

He explained that some of them could benefit from funding that may be available in the next few weeks, which wasn’t assured when the BFP was being written.

The BFP provides the basis for the preparation of the 2019-20 budget, which will be read next month.

Munyaneza said that the finance minister promised to go back to the drawing board in order to address the funding gaps, explaining that even if a new source of funding is not identified there could be some changes on the prioritisation of activities in the proposed budget.

“He realised that some of these gaps deserve more attention and reassured the committee that they will be taken care of,” the lawmaker said.

Some of the urgent activities that still need funding include 47 water projects to refurbish dilapidated water lines across the country,  building a few hostels for teachers, building more homes in Bugesera District’s Rweru model village, building sewerage systems in Kicukiro District, and paying sit-in teachers to replace about 2500 teachers who go on maternity leave every year.

With the current budget’s execution standing at about 84 per cent, lawmakers expressed hope that it could be successfully executed at over 90 per cent by the end of next month when the financial year closes.

But they also called for continued efforts to properly manage public projects in order to reduce their delays, abandonment, and sometimes total failures.

MP Théogène Munyangeyo called for more efforts in proper planning of projects and closer follow-up in their implementation.

“There needs to be thorough planning to ensure that planned projects are successfully implemented. It has been noticed that we have weaknesses in projects’ monitoring and evaluation,” he said.

MP Marie Mediatrice Izabiriza equally shared her concern about stalled projects, singling out the plan to digitalise Umurenge-Saccos’ operations and urging the government to fast-track the process.

“Minecofin (the Ministry of Finance) should help SACCOs go digital because citizens use them a lot and should have trust in them.  Once they trust SACCOs, more people will use them to save their money,” she said.

The Government has proposed to increase the national budget by over Rwf290 billion, projecting that it will spend over Rwf2.8 trillion in the next financial year 2019-2020.