There is need to inject more money into the Export Growth Fund to narrow the gap between imports and exports, the Private Sector Federation has said.
Appearing before the parliamentary Standing Committe on National Budget and Patrimony during discussions on the 2017/18 Budget Framework Paper, on Wednesday, the Chief Executive Officer of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), Stephen Ruzibiza, said budget increase will help more people get loans to invest in exports.
He pointed out that, for the 2016/2017 budget, only Rfw8 billion had been allocated toward export growth which he said was a drop in the ocean.
“We are requesting that as projections are being made; let the money that goes into this fund be increased. This fund has been in place for a short time but if we are planning to increase exports, improve production and further grow the economy, then something needs to be done,” he said.
“That fund only helps people in interested in exporting but it should be open to everyone so that they can sell our products but also make us money in terms of interest. What banks need is to look at business’ books and figure out how best they can mutually benefit,” he said.
He also requested that the guarantee cover is set in motion because to-date, most farmers continue to struggle with agricultural cover since it is considered risky and only a handful of people are able to apply for it.
Ruzibiza also appealed for more multi service facilities to be built in more countries, saying that investors should be spared some expenses.
“We have a multi service centre in Congo Brazzaville where exports from Rwanda go straight in these stores and warehouses. We have a good relationship with many countries and we should strive to open more such facilities. However, before an investor does business, there is infrastructure that he needs, and some of it shouldn’t be something that he himself spends money on,” he said.
The Deputy Speaker in charge of finance and administration, Abbas Mukama, said there is need to give more tenders to locals as an incentive for them to produce better and more.
He, however, wondered what PSF was doing to ensure that quality and standards are not compromised.
“Let all Rwandans consume the Made-In-Rwanda products first before we turn to imported goods as a way of promoting our own and improving on our economy because it benefits everyone. However, for this to happen, the quality must be able to compete with the imports in terms of stands. What are you doing to make sure this happens,” he wondered.
The head of the Economic Cluster in the standing committe highlighted the value of the private sector saying it is connected to every aspect of the people’s lives.
“Whether it is in business, ICT, industry, cooperatives, infrastructure, and many more, the private sector is connected to each domain. This is in line with one of the foundations of EDPRS and Vision 2020, where this sector is a pillar of this country’s future economic independence,’’ said Gabriel Semasaka.
He called for some incentives to be considered and insurance cover to be given due consideration if the private sector is to grow as fast as desired.
This is the second time PSF was meeting members of parliament. In March this year, members of the PSF management team met the Senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance with whom they discussed their frustrations, chief among them being the government red tape which they said remains one of the challenges facing both local and foreign investors.