Senators call for increased public spending on education, agriculture

Senator Chrysologue Karangwa makes a comment during the session yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana.

Senators have urged the Government to increase spending on efforts aimed at developing agriculture and improving the quality of quality of education in the coming fiscal years.

They made the call yesterday as they analysed the Budget Framework Paper (BFP) for the next three fiscal years running from 2019/20 to 2021/22.

While they commended the Government’s proposal to increase the national budget, from Rwf2.5 trillion in the revised 2018/19 fiscal year to Rwf2.8 trillion in 2019/2020, they called for some adjustments.

If the Government had more resources, they argued, it would invest more in agriculture to at least achieve the 10 per cent threshold recommended by the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security.

Farmers till land in Rurindo District. Sam Ngendahimana.

Proposed budgetary allocation to agriculture accounts for about 4.4 percent of the next national budget, which is below the 10 per cent recommended under the Maputo framework.

Senator Consolée Uwimana, a member of the senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance, told other senators that the Government didn’t have enough money to invest in agriculture given the urgency of other priorities and the available resources.

“Agriculture received 4.4 per cent of the budget while the Maputo protocol advised investing at least 10 per cent. The reason is that there aren’t enough resources,” she said.

Senators also called for continued focus on improving the quality of education, including through teacher training and the increase of the number of classrooms and teachers themselves as well as increasing didactic materials for students.

“There has to be more classrooms, there has to be more teachers, and there has to be more didactic materials. All of these investments need to be made in order to improve the quality of education,” said Senator Célestin Sebuhoro.

The MPs also called for continued investment in home-based production of quality agriculture seeds to increase production, add value to mineral produce, fast-track the automation of services offered by Umurenge Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Umurenge SACCOs), and fast-track review of the land use master plan in order to protect farmland.

Key interventions under the proposed budget for next fiscal year will include growing traditional exports, promoting non-traditional exports, and growth of the services sector.

It will also focus on cross-cutting interventions, such as promotion of Made-in-Rwanda, developing cross-border and trade logistics infrastructure, as well as the development of industrial parks.

Out of over Rwf2.8 trillion planned for expenditure in the next fiscal year, the government’s recurrent budget will be Rwf1.4 trillion while development budget will be Rwf1.1 trillion among other expenditures.

Allocation of the budget resources has been channeled in three main sectors, including economic transformation that will claim 56.9 per cent of the budget, social transformation which will receive 27.2 per cent of the budget, while transformational governance will take 15.9 per cent of the budget.

The senators’ comments on the Budget Framework Paper, along with those that will be shared by MPs in the Lower House, will be submitted to the Government and feed into the final preparation of the 2019-20 budget which will be read in June 2019.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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