URUGWIRO VILLAGE - For Rwanda to be able to build world class institutions, leaders at all levels must be held accountable and President Paul Kagame vowed on Monday not to lose momentum in demanding for performance.
Stressing the issue of staying focused in achieving the nation’s development agenda, Kagame insisted that he would “not relent on being very demanding” to ensure that transformation of this nation takes place and at a fast pace.
“Collectively, we want to build institutions--we want to do things that put us at a level that you find anywhere else in this world. We want to have world class institutions and services,” Kagame told reporters during the monthly Press conference.
And to achieve this, the President told the nation he would ensure that each and every leader is held accountable.
“Like I have said before, I intend and have always been intending to be very demanding when it comes to this issue of accountability and seeing results. So I will continue demanding that people fulfill their promise in service to this nation of Rwanda.”
Kagame’s remarks came a day after he made a mini- cabinet reshuffle in which some roles of ministers were inter-changed. Earlier last week, he had fired his state minister for Primary and Secondary Education before dropping the full cabinet minister during the weekend reshuffle.
He partly attributed last weekend’s cabinet changes to the growing need for a result-oriented team that also took issues of accountability seriously.
During the briefing attended by senior cabinet ministers and members of local press, Kagame was asked a wide range of questions but mainly centred on the socio-economic situation of the country.
He equally took questions on Rwanda’s relations with her neighbours.
Rwanda- DRC relations “very good”
He described as “very good” the prevailing relationship between his government and that of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The relationship between Rwanda and DRC has been improving very fast. I say it’s now at a very good level and we want not only to keep it there but continue to advance it,” the President said.
He added that time had come to move the relations of both countries beyond the security concerns to include bilateral trade and investments.
“Rwanda continues to be ready to work with our brothers and sisters in DRC to deal with any problems not only of security---we want to go beyond that, we want to also work together on issues of investment and socio-economic development.”
The two countries recently resumed diplomatic ties after appointing envoys to their capitals. Both nations have approved diplomats proposed to represent their governments in the two capitals.
On the local scene, Kagame also took time to explain recent reports on the increased resignation or arrests of local government officials, which the media described as a “high turnover.”
He said the “turnover” was not due to lack of capacity as was portrayed in the media, but rather failure on the part of these local government officials to account for state resources.
“When an individual prefers to put state funds into his personal account and you tell me that’s lack of capacity--- I find that a problem,” Kagame said.
Liquidity in the banks
During the same Press Conference, the Minister of Finance was tasked to answer issues related to the current credit squeeze within commercial banks in the country.
James Musoni said the liquidity squeeze resulted largely from global financial crisis but also due to large volumes of the long term credit that was extended to private sector last year, leaving commercial bank with limited liquidity.
Musoni said government had designed strategies to rectify the problem. These included reductions of reserve requirement ratios from 8 to 5 percent which would release some money into the banks.
The Central Bank would also put government long term deposits in commercial banks to give them confidence to carry out long term lending.
“By June this year, levels we had reached last year had been restored,” said James Musoni.
“But we could see some panic in the banks because they could not allow lending long-term. So what we did, we agreed with central bank and govt to put government long-term deposits in the banks to give them confidence to lend long term.
Musoni said some people were using the pretext of the on-going financial crisis to back-track on payment of their loans. He said this had led to the rise of non-performing loans in some banks from 9-13 percent.
During the same Press conference President Kagame instructed the ministry of education to look into the current status of the School of Finance and Banking, which reporters said had deviated from its core mission.
Kagame also questioned the logic of putting a ceiling for school fees in private schools as had been reported in the press, saying it was not right for local administrators to interfere in businesses of private schools.
“If it’s a private school, you have no business to go and tell people what to charge, the only business you have is to make sure the education given in these schools conforms to our standards.”
He said parents needed to have more roles in the broader management of public schools.
In the same press briefing, the Minister of Energy, Eng. Albert Butare also gave an update on progress of tapping under sea fibre optic cables that had recently landed at the coastal town of Mombasa.
He said Rwanda was on course to tap from one of the cables that was coming through neighbouring Uganda.