Members of Parliament on Friday passed the budget law for the fiscal year 2017-18, essentially giving the final approval to the country’s next budget whose execution starts on July 1.
The budget law was passed unanimously and the Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Claver Gatete, told journalists after the approval that the next step will be about sensitising citizens and implementing agencies about its content.
Proposed to Parliament early this month, the next national budget approved by the House yesterday is Rwf2.09 trillion, which increased from the current year’s Rwf1.95 trillion.
“We now believe in the budget and we hope that we can move fast to implement it,” Minister Gatete told journalists shortly after the budget law was passed yesterday.
He said that next steps to enable successful execution of the budget will include printing booklets that explain its content so that citizens can understand what is in it for them and working with implementing agencies including districts to ensure that they use the budget according to their plans.
It is expected that 66 per cent of the country’s next budget will be financed by domestic resources through tax and non-tax revenues while the government expects 17 percent of the budget to come from both domestically and externally secured loans and the remaining 17 percent of the budget obtained from foreign grants.
Officials say that the next budget pushes the country’s ambition to be self-reliant a step in the right direction as the 66 per cent of the approved budget will be domestically funded.
The current budget was internally funded to a tune of 62 per cent.
“It’s quite a step if we compare with last year’s budget,” said MP Annonciata Mukarugwiza, deputy chairperson of the parliamentary budget committee, as she commented on the rate at which the next budget will be domestically funded.
Her committee made final analyses and comments on the draft budget before it was tabled back in the House’s plenary yesterday for final approval.
She said that national current priorities have been catered for in the budget, especially infrastructure projects and President Paul Kagame’s pledges to citizens such as building roads and hospitals among other promises he made to them in his current mandate.
“We believe that the most urgent priorities for the country at the moment have been funded,” Mukarugwiza said in an interview shortly after the budget was approved.
Designed with the theme of “Sustainable growth through infrastructure development and promotion of Made in Rwanda”, the next national budget seeks to see heavy investments put into infrastructure projects such as building roads and airports, rolling out electricity in more areas, providing more water resources in urban areas, and preparing more industrial parks upcountry.
The government has also planned to put a zero taxation regime on importing goods most needed by local industries in order to boost local production and cut down on imports.
It has hence put a zero taxation regime on importing garments and leather processing machines, wheat grains and sugar, public transport buses and transit goods vehicles like lorries, road construction heavy machines, as well as telecommunication and electronic equipments such as Points of Sale (PoS) and ATM machines.
“They (tax cuts) will create massive jobs for Rwandans,” Minister Gatete said in an interview with The New Times yesterday.
The minister has said that the government’s expenditure policies in fiscal year 2017/18 are guided by the country’s priorities as laid out in its second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS2).
The budget resources in the next fiscal year have hence been allocated towards EDPRS 2 priorities such as accelerating economic transformation, develop the rural sector, and promote youth employment and accountable governance.
Critical issues that affect citizens daily and constitute the basis of their future such as health, basic education, food security and nutrition, governance decentralisation, stable public finance management as well as peace and security have also attracted crucial funding in the budget.