EDITORIAL: This country cannot afford the luxury of complacency

 Every year, for the last 16 years, the country has been holding a national dialogue to chart the way forward. What used to be a small gathering of government officials and other stakeholders before, now involves the whole country.

Today, thousands attend the event physically and technology makes it possible to reach the nation live via live feeds, video conferencing or social media where people are able to interact and propose ideas.

The National Umushyikirano Council has become a factory of ideas with well-oiled machines. Targets are set and the engines go into motion until the next year when assessments are made to gauge the level of implementation as well as challenges. Obstacles are then dissected and solutions proposed.

This year was no different, and the national “inquest” found that 80 per cent of the targets were achieved while others were on the way.

That is why it is easy to wonder why poverty that had been regularly reducing drastically, but this year the improvement was minimal, according to national statistics. But the same statistics also point to a huge reduction in unemployment, from 18.8 per cent last year to 15.1 per cent.

However, unemployment is higher among women and this should be a blot on the nation’s pristine gender parity record and needs to be addressed fast.

Social protection is a very crucial cluster in the Government’s plans and Ubudehe, the social stratification system that determines the amount of state aid needed, is the cornerstone in improving the people’s well-being.

The just-concluded Umushyikirano found some shortcomings and loopholes that need to be plugged quickly as they could spell the difference between better life and that of a pauper; the latter being in the Government’s crosshairs.

But as the President said, despite the successes, there should be no complacency as the road to travel is still long.

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