Members of the Lower House have urged the Government to urgently address reasons behind slow implementation of the current national budget for the financial year 2017/18 after noticing that, overall, the budget execution in districts was at 40.5 per cent in the first six months.
A report presented to the House on Friday by the parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony indicates that out of over Rwf470 billion budget allocated to districts, about 48 per cent was received in the first six months of the financial year.
MPs on the committee argued that not receiving the major part of the budget allocated to districts has resulted into slow implementation of projects, with the execution of the development budget in the districts lower at 33.5 per cent.
While presenting the committee’s report from a tour of 30 districts across the country, MP Constance Mukayuhi Rwaka, the chairperson of the Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony, expressed concern that districts have been receiving funds at a late stage and the consequences include shoddy implementation of development projects.
“If you can’t find money in the first six months, money that is obtained after that period is used haphazardly,” she said on delays for districts to get funds.
Delays in disbursement of funds is hurting development programmes at the local government level, she said.
But the delays are partly attributed to the fact that taxes are collected late in the financial year, with the bulk of the funds from taxes is mainly paid at the end of March every year, just three months before the closure of the financial year.
Mukayuhi said that a revision of the law is underway in Parliament to ensure that the taxes— mostly income, rental, and trading license taxes —get paid at an earlier date in the fiscal year in order to enable implementation of what is planned in the annual budget.
Many MPs pushed for the review of the law that sets up deadlines for paying the taxes to be fast-tracked, arguing that it would help get funds to the districts’ budgets at an earlier date.
“We no longer end our budget year in December since it now ends in June. Changing the law should be fast-tracked to bring tax collection in line with the national budget,” said MP Christine Muhongayire.
MP Theoneste Karenzi concurred.
“Why can’t tax collection be organised around the national budget?” he asked.
MP Thierry Karemera urged officials at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to always fast-track transfer of funds to districts whenever they are available.
“Most of the funds are delivered to districts towards the end of the fiscal year yet the government funds are available at the end of March, this issue should be resolved,” he said.
MPs’ findings about budget execution in districts will be discussed with officials from the central government as part of the analysis of how the budget for the current financial year was executed and how the next fiscal year’s budget should be planned.