27 April 2017

Rwanda: Parliamentarians Review Rwanda, Morocco Double Taxation Bill

Photo: The New Times
Some of the Moroccan investors follow proceedings during the African Business Connect summit in Kigali, early this month (file photo).

Parliament's Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security yesterday met with a team from Rwanda Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Finance to discuss the Bill concerning the agreement on tax avoidance signed between Rwanda and Morocco.

The agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and tax evasion regarding income taxes between the two countries was signed in October last year.

The agreement is one of the 18 ideals that were signed between the two countries during a three-day state visit by the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, to Rwanda.

Appearing before the Committee, the Head of Audit and International Taxation at RRA, Raul Gasana, said that the agreement will help to further develop the economic and bilateral relationship between the two countries and enhance their cooperation in tax matters.

"As the country develops further, so does the need for bilateral and trade agreements with as many countries as possible. This agreement, for instance, caters for potential investors leaving one of the two countries to invest in the other to only be taxed in one country instead of both," he said.

Gasana addressed the issue of local investors' complaints about incentives given to foreign investors and accuse the government of not giving them incentives to get their businesses off the ground.

"We try to make it much easier for foreign investors to come over because Rwandans benefit from the jobs that they create and we need their taxes to build the nation and for that, we reduce their taxes a little bit. Similar incentives are extended to a Rwandan who decides to invest in Morocco," he said.

MP Fortunee Nyiramadirida pointed out that though there was need to provide incentives, it was important to remember the local investor who is required to do business with a foreign investor on the same level ground.

"It's great that we give investors incentives to invest and it's true we have more to benefit from this arrangement. However, as we get excited about them being interested in investing in Rwanda in big numbers, we need to make sure that we do not forget our local investor who, for instance, doesn't have incentives but still has to compete on the same market," she said.

MP John Ruku-Rwabyoma reminded the team of the need to tie loose ends if Rwandans are to benefit from such agreements.

"This agreement is very important and we perhaps need to find ways to sign clinch more. However, we need to be on the lookout for the standards in terms of, for instance, employment and remuneration are the same as it is back in the countries," he said.

MP Jeanne d'Arc Nyinawase said that, while Rwanda has opened its borders to other countries, the country still had little it was exporting.

"Honestly, there is not much we are taking to other countries, instead, most of the countries that we trade with, even in the East African Community, have more to reap in Rwanda that we do in theirs. How can we at least make sure that the money that these foreign companies are making stays within Rwanda," she wondered.

Before the meeting, the discussion about the Bill started off in the plenary during its first reading.

The Committee will now sit and write a report about the sessions that they have had with different stakeholders before sending the Bill to the plenary further scruitiny and possible approval.

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