AGRICULTURE deserves more funding than is currently accorded and the Government should consider the sector’s significance to the economy in the forthcoming Budget Allocation, legislators have said.
The issue was raised when the parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony presented their report on the 2017/18 to 2019/20 Budget Framework Paper following weeks of scrutiny.
MP Constance Rwaka, the chairperson of the committee, said the economy is projected to grow by 6.2 per cent and 6.8 per cent by 2017 and 2018, respectively, and the agriculture sector is expected to play a key role in the growth.
“We all agree that agriculture sector contributes a lot to the economy, and more than 80 per cent of our population depend on agricultural activities. This is why we suggest that the funds given to this sector should be raised,” she said.
The Government allocated Rwf118.3 billion to agriculture sector last year. However, in the Budget Framework for the 2017/18, the sector will have to make do with a reduction to Rwf91.2 billion – if the proposed Budget is passed as is.
The Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Claver Gatete, told Parliament that the decrease in Budget Allocation for agriculture was due to the fact that some of the main capital intensive projects that were being funded last year have since been completed.
But Speaker Donatile Mukabalisa said agriculture budget should increase to allow for increased productivity.
“We should do everything necessary to raise the funds allocated to this important sector that feeds us. Farmers still face a lot of challenges, including lack of access to finance. We can devise new strategies to deal with these challenges,” she said.
The lawmakers also said there was need for comprehensive research and capacity building in the agriculture sector, to ensure farmers harvest more on the smallest piece of land possible.
Meanwhile, Rwaka hailed the Government’s efforts toward ensuring that the country uses domestic resources to fully fund its operations, saying the next budget would be domestically funded by 83 per cent.
So far, the Government finances the National Budget at 83 per cent (Rwf1.728 billion) using domestic revenue.
“We are confident that with more strategies and good prices for our exports such as coffee, tea and minerals, we will soon fully fund our budget,” she said.
The lawmaker also pointed to likely positive impact of the Made-in-Rwanda initiative, under which government is encouraging manufacturing and consumption of local brands.
2017/18 Budget Estimates
The 2017/18 Proposed Budget shows that Rwf972.6 billion, representing 46 per cent of the total proposed National Budget, was allocated to foundational sectors.
Foundational sector comprises health, education, justice, peace, stability, food security, macroeconomic stability, and public finance management, among others.
Rwf432.6 billion, 21 per cent of the total Budget, was allocated to economic transformation; Rwf328.6 billion (16 per cent) to rural development; and Rwf131.2 billion (6 per cent) to productivity and youth employment.
The Budget Framework Paper was prepared in line with Rwanda’s long-term Vision 2020, the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, the seven-year Government Plan, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.
The proposed Rwf2,094 billion National Budget represents a 7 per cent increase from that of the soon-to-end fiscal year.