Members of Parliament yesterday rallied behind the Financial Year 2017/18 National Budget, mostly praising government for listening to their inputs by making allocation for priority areas.
The legislators were commenting after the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Amb. Claver Gatete, presented to a joint-parliamentary session the 2017/18 Budget that is valued at Rwf2,094,910,480,545.
The Budget, which aims to further cut down the country’s dependence on external support by domestically sourcing the funds (at 66 per cent), has been hailed for allocating funds to areas that needed consistent support.
MP Annonciata Mukarugwiza noted that the promises President Paul Kagame made to locals regarding infrastructure had been considered in the Budget.
“I am glad that infrastructure that President Kagame had promised to the people, including the Nyanza-Ngoma road, the construction of stadiums in Eastern Province and building technical schools, are all catered for in the new Budget,” she said.
Mukarugwiza said even projects that had been left out in the Budget for the current fiscal year had been considered.
“There are projects that in the past had been left out but are captured in the new Budget, including a rehabilitation centre in Nyamagabe, promotion of agriculture within and outside the country and improvement of agricultural irrigation scheme infrastructure,” she said.
MP Gabriel Semasaka was keener on the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) performance, which he said should significantly improve with more funds to the agency.
“Initially, the Budget Estimate showed that the money allocated to agriculture was Rwf80 billion, but we requested that it be increased and I am glad to see that it was raised by 25 per cent. RAB has no more excuses not to deliver,” he said.
MP Juvenal Nkusi suggested that efforts are put into laying a foundation for Made-In-Rwanda entrepreneurs who are set to enjoy tax incentives under the new Budget Framework.
“When you listen to all the projects listed in this Budget, you are convinced that these are projects that are going to help advance the country. However, I have heard the minister say that some taxes were significantly reduced to promote the Made-In-Rwanda initiative. Have we laid ground for people to be able to take advantage of these incentives?” he wondered.
MP Agnes Mukazibera tasked Minister Gatete to look into talent development and promotion by considering tax waiver on the equipment needed for that.
“During the recent Itorero where President Kagame met journalists, artistes and sportspersons, one of the requests that came up was talent development. Perhaps waiving taxes on their equipment would help,” she said.
MP Ignatienne Nyirarukundo pointed out the need for more money in pest control and the promotion of animal husbandry.
“I have not seen any money allocated to fighting pest control nor emphasis put on animal farming yet it has significant potential if we, for instance, looked at the impact of Girinka programme on our society. We need to look into this,” she said.
MP John Ruku-Rwabyoma expressed satisfaction with how the Budget had turned out.
“All factors remaining constant, I am happy with the way the Budget turned. I was personally interested in seeing money allocated to agriculture and infrastructure increased and I am glad that it was,” he said.
Although the Budget was read to both Chambers of Parliament, it is expected to be reviewed by the Senate.