The New Times (Kigali)

10 July 2008

Rwanda: House Approves Development Board

Kigali — Seven major foreign exchange generating agencies will soon come under one roof with a single management. The umbrella agency that will be called the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has been endorsed by the Cabinet meeting, revealed the State minister in charge of Industry and Investment Promotion Vincent Karega.

The agencies to be joined are: Office of Rwanda Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN), Rwanda Commercial Registration Services Agency (RCRSA), Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA), Rwanda Information Technology Authority (RITA), Center for Support to Small and Medium Enterprise in Rwanda (CAPMER), Human Resource and Institutional Capacity Development Agency (HIDA) and the Privatisation Secretariat.

Presenting the proposed bill for the establishment of the RDB before parliament, Karega said that merging the parastatals would ease the development of private entrepreneurs and speed up the process of registering and starting a business. He said that the main responsibility of the RDB will be to fast-track development activities by both the government and the private sector.

"RDB will promote local and foreign direct investment and provide guidelines, analyse project proposals and follow-up on government decisions in line with public and private investments," said Karega.

According to the bill, the RDB will be headed by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who will also chair its board and management.

The draft law establishing the highly structured parastatal also proposes that the CEO/ Board chair shall be appointed by a presidential order with a mandate of five years not renewable, while the deputy CEOs shall be appointed by an order of the Prime Minister. The RDB will be be supervised by the president's office.

After presenting the proposed law establishing the RDB, Karega was overwhelmed by many questions from MPs who expressed worries that the RDB would be too big to be easily managed.

"If a country can be managed effectively, why not an institution?" Karega quickly replied.

He, however, added that feasibility studies and consultations have been carried out to ensure the effectiveness of the giant institution.

Karega also assured MPs that Rwanda adopted the idea from countries with highly advanced economies, and that similar institutions have been set up in Singapore and Ireland which are currently leading the table of doing business worldwide.

Deputy Elysee Bisengimana proposed that the establishment of the institute be gradual starting with a few agencies.

Bisengimana was backed by Deputy Anne Marie Kantengwa who said that some parastatals have been performing better than others and that the best performers are likely to be affected by the poor performers.

In his response, Karega said that that there was no time for a gradual process and that the poor performing agencies would now be exposed to high standards of competition which would improve their performance.

Other MPs requested that more government parastatals be added to the umbrella agency.

Gideon Kayinamura proposed that Rwanda Bureau of Standards be put under RDB, while Francis Kaboneka proposed the National Land Center.

Minister Karega differed with the two MPs, saying there were criteria used to nominate agencies.

MPs were satisfied with Karega's explanations and passed the bill establishing RDB.

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