Private businesses signing imihigo? I don’t buy the idea

On July 27th, I attended President Paul Kagame’s monthly press conference. During the conference, the President reacted to an article that had been published in this newspaper. In the article, the line ministry cautioned private schools against increasing school fees without consulting the government.

On July 27th, I attended President Paul Kagame’s monthly press conference. During the conference, the President reacted to an article that had been published in this newspaper.

In the article, the line ministry cautioned private schools against increasing school fees without consulting the government.

The President was furious that the ministry was interfering with people’s businesses.

He warned that the only role the ministry should play is to make sure the education given in private schools conforms to “our standards.”

Last Saturday, while I read Arthur Asiimwe’s article “Why our own ‘Imihigo’ outshines World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’”, I became somewhat bothered.

However much I concur with Arthur on the fact that the Imihigo outshines the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’, I strongly disagree on the point that private businesses should sign performance contracts with the Private Sector Federation.

Imihigo (performance contracts) are aimed at guiding and encouraging public officials to deliver.

Public officials tend to be reluctant when it comes to fulfilling their responsibilities, even though we elect them and pay them with our taxes.

We therefore have reason to request that all leaders sign contracts in order to hold them accountable.

This should not be the case with private businesses. They are accountable to themselves. Why on earth would you ask a businessperson to sign a contact if you are not the shareholder?

The government and the Private Sector Federation should only ensure good practice of business ethics, but not to mind how much a businessperson is making in and so on. 

That would be stepping over and beyond what the government or the private sector federation should do.
For example, Mr. Asiimwe suggests that telecom companies (MTN, Rwandatel and TIGO), private newspapers, and radio and television stations should sign annual imihigo with their respective regulatory agencies.

Take a moment and think about it. You are a private business entity and someone comes to your office with papers for you to sign a performance contract?

What for? More so, if businesses respect consumer rights, pay taxes appropriately and obey governing laws, why would someone care?

The World Bank Doing Business report focuses on how easy countries make it to start and operate businesses, strengthening property rights, and improving commercial dispute resolutions and bankruptcy procedures.

What actually would compel anyone to make private businesses sign performance contacts?

If this were done, we would scare away every investor and then Rwanda would bounce back to the bottom as a poor performer in the “Doing Business” report.

Is this what we want?

The author is an engineering student in Canada.
magnusmazimpaka@yahoo.ca

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