Envoys and other diplomats returning from foreign missions will, for the first time, enjoy custom duty exemptions on purchased vehicles.
This follows amendment of ministerial instructions on fringe benefits and monthly lump sums for public officials and people’s representatives, which were announced after last week’s Cabinet meeting.
The benefits for the returning diplomats include a full tax exemption on the retail cost of a vehicle in accordance with the maximum ceiling as specified in the ministerial order and 100 per cent of maintenance fee in case of damage.
However, unlike officials in the first category, the new beneficiaries will not be entitled to any monthly lump sum or Km indemnity (when one uses own vehicle to do official work, or for using a vehicle for long distance travel outside the 30-kilometre radius of the main workplace), according to the instructions signed by Dr Alexis Nzahabwanimana, state minister for transport.
Initially, vehicle loan scheme for officials were classified in the category comprising ministers, ministers of state, permanent secretaries, senators, Members of Parliament, mayors, director-generals, vice-mayors, executive secretaries of districts and their equivalents.
Another special group subdivided in category 1, 2 and 3 comprises specialist doctors of public hospital, senior lecturers and professors of higher learning institutions, agronomists and veterinary officers of the sector, inspectors of education at the district level and labour inspector at the district level using a motorcycle.
According to the new instructions, the same special group saw in its category three additions of other members comprising of returning envoys, returning minister counsellors of embassies, returning commercial attaché, returning first counsellors of embassies; returning second counsellors of embassies and returning first, second and third secretaries of the embassy, who will receive the same benefits.
Speaking to The New Times last week, Innocent Kabogoza, senior engineer in charge of government fleet policy at the Ministry of Infrastructure, said the changes came two years after the Government adopted the same instructions, which are addendum to the 2014 national fleet policy and Prime Minister’s Order establishing salaries and fringe benefits for public servants of the central government.
“The changes were mainly about the returning diplomats and beneficiaries of government loan scheme which could now extend the lump-sum period from five to eight years,” he said.
According to Kabogoza, the existing lump sums were defined in two parts where the beneficiaries are exempted from tax for a period of five years and 100 per cent of maintenance fee in case vehicles are damaged.
“From now onward, depending on the will of the beneficiary, the vehicle loan scheme can be extended to three more years from the ordinary five because we expect beneficiaries to have reimbursed the loan within the five years,” he added.
On the other hand, beneficiaries whose loan scheme has ended while in service will continue to enjoy government’s payment of the maintenance fee.
The same instructions further states that the maximum ceilings for the purchase cost of a tax-free vehicle for returning ambassadors won’t exceed Rwf18 million, while that for minister counsellors, commercial attachés; counsellors of embassies and the secretaries won’t exceed Rwf10 million.
According to the existing instructions as per 2014 fleet policy, beneficiaries under the vehicle loan scheme that entered into contract with government are entitled, during the duration of the scheme which is normally five years, to receive monthly lump sum, which is equivalent to 100 per cent of vehicle running cost and 100 per cent monthly loan repayment, including interest on the basis of their positions.
They are also entitled to 100 per cent of vehicle running cost only during the transitional period that can go up to three years.