16 June 2017

Rwanda: Parliament Starts Scrutiny of 2017/18 National Budget Bill

The parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony has started review of the draft law for the 2017-18 National Budget to fine-tune plans laid out in the Bill before it is passed.

The Government tabled the Budget Proposal last week and has asked MPs to approve slightly more than Rwf2 trillion in total funding for the country's operations for the next fiscal year.

From the current financial year's Rwf1.9 trillion to Rwf 2.09 trillion proposed for the 2017/18 fiscal year, the Government expenditure increased by Rwf140.7 billion.

Economic plans laid out in the Budget Proposal will generally focus on promoting investments in infrastructure and supporting domestic industries to promote locally-made products.

But the parliamentary committee wants to make their final comments on the Budget Proposal before it is tabled back in the House's plenary for final approval.

"Our work today is about fine-tuning the plans laid out in the budget. It's not possible to find money for every request but we believe that the Government made sure to consider the most urgent needs," said MP Annonciata Mukarugwiza, deputy chairperson of the committee.

Parliament approved, in principle, the 2017/18 draft finance law, last week, when it was tabled in the House and the on-going assessments at the committee level may not take long given that most MPs are generally happy with the plans laid out in the Budget Proposal.

"I am happy with the Bill; I think many of our original ideas were considered but we also have to raise any other concerns that we may find in the Budget Proposal so they can be addressed before the budget law is passed," said MP Innocent Kayitare.

The Budget Proposal was designed based on the 2017/18 to 2019/20 Budget Framework Paper that Government presented to Parliament in April, and was amended to reflect the recommended actions by the MPs.

The Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Amb. Claver Gatete, told The New Times shortly after appearing before the committee yesterday that the more the legislators are familiar with the basis of plans laid out in the Budget Proposal, the faster they will approve it.

"The more they understand the plans the faster and the better their inputs will be," he said.

The next National Budget will be implemented under the theme, "Sustainable growth through infrastructure development and promotion of Made-in-Rwanda."

It seeks to see heavy investments put into infrastructure projects such as building and upgrading roads and airports, rolling out electricity in more areas, providing water resources to more citizens in urban areas, and creating more industrial parks upcountry.

The Government has also planned to put a zero taxation regime on imported goods most needed by local industries in order to boost local production and cut down on imports.

It is expected that 66 per cent of the country's next budget will be financed through domestic resources while the Government expects 17 per cent of the budget to come from both domestically and externally secured loans and the remaining 17 per cent from foreign grants.

Parliament has until the end of the month to finally pass the Budget Proposal to pave way for next fiscal year's Budget Execution that starts on July 1.


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