Parliament will pass the Rwf2 trillion Financial Year 2017/18 National Budget in coming weeks, paving the way for implementation of an ambitious national plan to achieve “sustainable growth through infrastructure development and promotion of Made-in-Rwanda.”
Rwanda, like the rest of the East African Community partner states – with the exception of Burundi whose Budget Planning is not aligned to the regional framework – has drawn up a Budget whose focus is on infrastructure and industrialisation.
This would ideally elicit the question: So how is infrastructure development pro-people/poor? Understandable. Developing countries have increasingly realised that infrastructure is the foundation for any economy seeking to transform socially and economically.
Agriculture used to be everything. And it still is, to a larger extent, as it remains the backbone of the economy. But for agriculture to thrive, production should go beyond subsistence, meaning produce have to be exchanged for bigger scales. This can only be through trading in them.
To achieve this, farmers need good road network to link their produce to the market. The Government must have factored this when its first Budget Estimate left agriculture sector low on funding. Stakeholders prevailed to see the sector budget rise from Rwf434 billion to Rwf450.2 billion.
The new National Budget has tax waivers that boost not only public transport but also favour the local industries, whose goods will be tax-exempt. This opens the door for many entrepreneurs in the country as raw materials will be more accessible.
But that is where the implementation comes into play. The Government is saying it will boost infrastructure in such a way that transport of products becomes easy, and tourists will be in the country. The common man just needs to move with the flow of the Budget to reap the rewards.
Local governments will be expected to pick the cue and implement their budgets in line with the national theme. But the central government will have to toughen on local leaders who fail to utilise budgets, leading to projects stagnation across many sectors.