Indecisiveness by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (Minaffet) and that of Trade and Industry (Minicom) is blamed for causing certain investors to consider slowing down investments into the country.
MPs learned this, last week, as François Kanimba, the new Minister of Trade, laboured to hastily see through the approval and ratification of two pertinent bills initially signed in 2008 and 2009.
The MPs could not understand why the laws took two and three years to come to Parliament.
Kanimba had come to present the law authorizing the ratification of the treaty concerning the encouragement and reciprocal protection of investment between Rwanda and the USA, which was signed in Kigali in 2008.
Another was the law authorizing the ratification of the agreement on promotion and protection of investments, signed in Kigali in May 2009, between Rwanda and South Korea.
Dismay also built up as the minister requested the lawmakers to hurriedly endorse the bills.
The USA and South Korea have continuously asked government why the agreements were not ratified, after this long.
The minister told Parliament that in response, he informed the two countries that “basing on what our constitution says, nothing can be done before ratification by the Parliament.”
Lawmakers pressed the minister to explain “what really caused the delay of the ratification,” with MP Connie Bwiza questioning the value the ministries attache to such important agreements.
Other MPs wondered what could have been the implications of the delay on the budget in the past three years.
MP Gideon Kyinamura said: “Investment is an important issue in our country’s policy. And I am wondering – where did things go wrong? Two years! Three years! If you waste even one year, you impede development in Rwanda.”
MP Charles Kamanda said: “These are strong countries [in terms of investments] and this was a chance we got. But to keep them waiting for three years is not comprehensible.”
The minister acknowledged the ‘mess’ and said: “I also tried to inquire, so as to understand – I hear there is a time when there was a shifting of responsibility between Minicom and Minaffet, about who would bring them to Parliament.”
“Everyone thought that it was the other that would do it. I hear that is what caused it [delay].”
Kanimba said: “At the moment, there are investors who have hesitated on investing their capital – others thought we did not like the agreements. Because of the delay, they decided to hold off investing and start when the agreements are ratified.”
The House later approved the bills even after 20 percent of the lawmakers present [over 50] voted against a hasty endorsement, preferring the bills first go through the routine examination by the Committee in charge.