Maseru - The Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, yesterday, delivered a keynote address at an anti- corruption conference in Maseru, Lesotho, organized by the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Commonwealth Business Council and the Business Action against Corruption.
The theme of the conference was “Business Action against Poverty: Public-Private Strategies to Improve Governance"
Karugarama, who represented President Paul Kagame spoke about Rwanda’s policy of zero tolerance on corruption and how the vice has been reduced massively.
He noted that fighting corruption in Rwanda started in a conventional way, but has since gone on to include the support of the private sector, helping the government to tackle the problem at five levels.
“First, was the political level which formed the basis for subsequent actions. There had to be strong political will among leaders in order to influence policy and implementation of strategies,” Karugarama said.
“Second, at the level of prevention and enforcement, we enacted laws and set up institutions and systems of transparency, accountability and monitoring. Such institutions as the Rwanda Revenue Authority and the Rwanda National Examinations Council ensure transparency,” he added.
The minister also cited other institutions like the Office of the Ombudsman and the Auditor General which promote and monitor accountability and prevent abuse of office and resources.
He said that the creation of special units like the Police, Judiciary and National Public Prosecution Authority to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate corruption cases, have been crucial in fighting the vice.
Karugarama said that the government instituted monitoring mechanisms at the technical level, taking advantage of available technology.
“The Government of Rwanda made doing business in the country easier by simplifying and reducing licensing and registration procedures, mainly through increased use of ICT,” Karugarama said.
“This has removed the need for business people wanting to set up business in Rwanda, to cut corners, and has eliminated corrupt officials who would take advantage of lengthy and complex procedures,” added the Justice Minister.
He noted that the zero-tolerance stance on corruption is accompanied by prosecution of offenders, whether they are from the public or private sector, while the recovery of stolen assets is also ensured, making corruption is a “very risky venture”.
The Minister emphasised that corruption is very costly to both governments and businesses and, as such, negatively affects development efforts.
The main objective of the conference is to assess the impact of public-private partnerships in fighting corruption.