SAVINGS AND INVESTMENT: The business community expects a lot from the new finance minister

Last week saw a reshuffle which saw the most important business-related post going to the vastly capable permanent secretary in Minecofin.

Last week saw a reshuffle which saw the most important business-related post going to the vastly capable permanent secretary in Minecofin.

He has been credited with good behind the scenes management and is articulate in explaining and implementing financial policy.

The appointment of John Rwangombwa is an opportunity for a slight change of direction, not to cast aspersions on how the ministry was run before but a new minister will always do things slightly differently.

The business community is looking for a champion or spokesman at the heart of government. The fact that the finance element and commerce element of our government is split in two means that the final authority on business is confusing.

Apart from bringing these elements together, we also have the option of making them cooperate more closely. Only the finance ministry can deliver true change to business and absorbing the commerce element might make us more business-minded in defining policy.

Openness in data is another challenge, to release and explain the latest key performance indicators on a monthly basis.

Employment rates, inflation, underlying inflation, house prices, wage rises sector by sector, export orders, import orders, interest rates, libel rates, credit default rates, risk assessment, sales, industrial capacity, industrial output, energy prices, energy costs, overall revenues to the treasury and so many indicators which help businesses plan. Minecofin has to become a data collection ministry and it has to share this data with the business community.

I hope he makes employment the central focus of his ministry, we are not building capacity for the sake of building capacity; we are doing so to create employment for Rwandans.

Let us get Rwandans working one by one; Rwanda will not work until Rwandans are working. We have a skills shortage but also have out of work skilled workers here in Kigali. The average waiting time for a graduate to get a job is one year.

Let us utilise the skills we have before we complain about the skills we don’t have.

I also hope he uses all the instruments available to him to reduce capital flight in the form of imports; in terms of tax law, business incentives, tariffs, import duties and banning orders.

Too much of our hard-earned forex is wasted on foreign luxury goods; even if this debt for Prados is privatised it still hampers growth in lending. I also hope he encourages us to save this money in government guaranteed accounts.

We also need more tax incentives for Rwandans to save and invest more in their futures.

Rwangombwa is good at explaining complex economic concepts in simple language, and he should continue to do that. There is a need for the public to be in tune with the Finance Minister in order to create consumer and investor confidence.

I hope he is in tune with small to medium enterprises and makes them the main benefactors of his policies.

I think the business community can expect tangible changes in the coming months with favourable policies and as well as more transparency in data and policy development.

Ends

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