Parliament has resolved to strengthen its oversight of government’s programmes, especially through visiting citizens across the country to understand how they benefit from poverty reduction and social protection initiatives.
The intention, which the MPs hope to execute starting with the next fiscal year 2016/17, was revealed on Tuesday by the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Donatille Mukabalisa, and the Senate president Bernard Makuza.
They were addressing the media in Kigali at the end of the Parliament’s first ordinary session of the year 2016 which kicked off on February 5, while they take a break before starting the House’s second ordinary session of the year 2016 which begins on June 5.
The House leaders said that the main activities of the second ordinary session of Parliament will focus on more closely assessing the government’s programmes, enacting laws to punish serious crimes like human trafficking and Gender-Based Violence (GBV), preparing the country’s budget for the next fiscal year 2016-2017, strengthening relations with other countries’ parliaments, and doing research about genocide ideology.
“It is clear that there are many government programmes which are not being effectively implemented. We want to strengthen our oversight, especially by looking at initiatives intended for poverty reduction among citizens,” Mukabalisa said.
Apart from development projects for which the government allocates a budget every fiscal year, the government also runs social protection programmes that are intended to help the most vulnerable members of society, such as the Ubudehe programme, under which people in their communities identify their neighbours’ level of poverty and decide whether they should have access to direct funds from government.
Other social protection programmes include the One Cow per Poor Family programme (Girinka), the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP) through which poor members of society are given paid work while those who are too old or too disabled to work get moderate cash handouts, and the community-based health insurance scheme called Mutuelle de Santé through which the government pays full medical expenses for the poor.
Apart from the ordinary task of assessing whether plans laid out in the government’s plans for every fiscal year have been implemented, Parliament will be regularly assessing any flaws that emerge during the delivery of the government’s social protection programmes.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament in charge of administration, Abbas Mukama, said that the closer oversight of the government’s programmes will require that the MPs increase their upcountry trips to engage with citizens.
“We want to be the first to detect people’s issues and report them to the government and local officials so that they are solved in time. There is no need for the people to report their problems to the Head of State when he visits them while there are many government institutions that can help address such matters in a timely way,” Mukama said.
In line with their core duty to enact laws and assess government’s programmes, lawmakers conduct routine outreach trips across the country to get an idea of the population’s welfare and how to improve programmes aimed at improving their lives.
Their most recent report from such trips, which was made public early last month and focused on people’s welfare, recommended the government to ensure better monitoring of Girinka programme given its potential to reduce poverty, increase farmers’ access to fertilisers and seeds, carry out extensive anti-malnutrition campaigns, and invest in building feeder roads and the provision of water and electricity across the country.