URUGWIRO VILLAGE - For better coordination of government business with Parliament, a new proposal that will see the Prime Minister appear more regularly before the House to explain policy issues is in the pipeline, President Paul Kagame said yesterday.
Though from time to time, the PM appears before Parliament to explain certain policy strategies, it has not been mandatory for his office to have a specified timeframe in which he faces the legislative arm.
“We thought it would make our work easier, more productive and give better results if the Prime Minister, who coordinates government business, would also have a regular and a well-worked out process where he interacts with Parliament to give them the broad overview of cabinet’s intentions and direction,” President Kagame told a press conference yesterday.
The President said this move would help bridge the gap in policy formulations, ease coordination and expedite decisions that the two arms of government have worked on.
“It is intended to have a clear framework and an understanding right from the beginning, so that Parliament acts better in terms of supporting what we want to achieve globally for our country,’ Kagame told the press.
He said the government was working out a mechanism, possibly to pass into law, which will guide how this new process will be conducted. It will specify how many times the PM will appear before the chambers of Parliament within a specific term of House sitting.
Presently, only Cabinet Ministers are required to appear before the house to explain different government programs.
Sound economic growth
On the economic front, the President referred to recent statistics issued by the National Institute of Statistics that pointed to impressive growth patterns despite the on-going global crisis.
The figures show that the economy has grown by 9 percent in the first half of 2009, driven mainly by a better crop yield and an expanding industrial base.
Inflation had been contained at 5 percent and per capita income of Rwandans was projected to rise to $520 by year end.
Noting the remarkable growth of agricultural sector during this year, the President said that much of government’s efforts have to be directed towards ensuring that returns from this sector trickle down to the local farmers.
“There needs a bit of organisation to be achieved by our systems so that there’s more benefit to our farmers. “There’s increase on food production--there’s demand outside Rwanda, but when you look at the price, it’s not good,” the President said.
the farmers to reap more from a season of surplus, the President said there needs to be extensive mobilisation of local farmers to invest in storage facilities.
The president He partly attributed the reported slight hike in domestic food prices to the growing demand for Rwandan output on the external market.
he said plans were underway to have extensive irrigation farming in the country.
“We cannot continue to have our agriculture entirely depend on chances of good weather. We have to invest heavily in irrigation,” the President said.
The President also took time to explain in detail recent media stories quoting him on China-Africa relations.
The reports had quoted the President as saying that Chinese investment in Africa has fuelled the development of the private sector, whereas western countries have mostly exploited African resources.
But Kagame said the most important thing is not pinpointing China or the West, but rather how the continent can organise itself to benefit amicably from these developed powers.
Citing an example of how the West has been engaged with Africa for a long time and yet the continent continues to languish in poverty, the President said time had come for Africa to do things right and own its development agenda.
“Why is Africa still where it is--- why is Africa still poor----if the West has spent billions and billions of dollars on Africa for a number of decades---why don’t we see it?
“Africa would gain more if they were allowed to trade freely and openly with the west. When it comes to really practice, the West is reluctant to deal with these trade issues we are talking about.”
At the Press briefing, Kagame also hinted on his retirement plans when he completes his constitutional term in office.
He envisaged continuing to serve the nation in a private capacity by making good use of his network of friends to attract more business to the country.
“I would continue to be of good service to my country and my people, but privately,” Kagame said. “I would continue to use my contacts and friendship with people to bring investments here in Rwanda. I’m very much interested in promoting business, entrepreneurship as a central part of our development process.”
Apart from that, the President who is still mandated by the constitution to run in next year’s polls, said he would spend time writing about his life and tending to his farm once he retires.
Responding to a question on his candidature in next year’s polls, Kagame said the entire decision lies in the hands of his party, the RPF, but he emphasised the right to decide whether to stand or not.