This year’s budget speech was more of an early Christmas gift for commuter and heavy goods transporters, industrialists and cycling enthusiasts.
But those who went home with the widest smiles were manufacturers and Rwanda Cycling Federation; factory equipment and racing bikes were given a boost as they will now enter the country tax free, escaping the previous 25% tax that used to be charged.
Other sectors, especially in manufacturing and technology, were also given preferential tax treatment in what the finance minister says is geared towards job creation through rapid industrialization.
In fact this year’s theme: “Industrialization for Job Creation and Shared Prosperity”, was shared by all member states of the East African Community and was agreed upon by all EAC Finance Ministers to demonstrate the region’s commitment to job creation.
But all that needs sound infrastructure. As was seen during the recent devastating rains, infrastructure in the region came under heavy pressure, more so in Kenya Uganda and Tanzania, where roads and bridges were washed away.
In Rwanda the toll was mostly human as over 100 people lost their lives though a couple of bridges were also washed away and mudslides came down with a vengeance.
All those calamities left the government with some crucial lessons; it must be prepared for all eventualities and communication should not be disrupted. That is why communication equipment was also in the zero tariff category.
For a country that depends on road transport, events like the collapse of the Gatuna road will no longer disrupt trade. Credit should therefore go to whoever came up with an idea that could easily escape attention; Rwf 7 billion was set aside to go towards purchasing two mobile bridges. That is sound planning.