7 February 2018

Rwanda: Lawmakers to Summon Trade, Agric Ministers

Members of the Lower House of Parliament yesterday agreed to summon officials at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) to explain the challenges around lack of proper markets for certain agriculture and farm produce.

The produce which farmers are finding challenging to sell on good prices include maize, Irish potatoes, and milk, the lawmakers noted after completing a tour in the Northern and Western provinces.

The legislators made the tour last month to assess the implementation of the government's programmes designed to improve people's lives in the current financial year 2017-2018.

They visited the two provinces, meeting people at the grassroots to discuss their challenges and how the government can help address them to boost development.

In a suggestion that was approved by the House yesterday, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament in charge of administration, Abbas Mukama, argued that the Minister of Trade should appear in Parliament to shade more light on how Irish potato farmers are getting helped with an organised market for their produce among other challenges.

"Given the nature of the problem of lack of organised market for Irish potatoes, I believe we should invite the Minister of Trade to come here in Parliament and discuss deeply about the problems and how to solve them," he said.

Apart from issues with finding markets for certain produce, MPs found residents in the two provinces with different problems that range from lack of enough infrastructure such as roads, water, and electricity to issues with Ubudehe categories whereby some government policies base on them to deliver programmes such as education.

MP Agnes Nyirabagenzi urged the government to reconsider basing education support on Ubudehe categories, saying that parents in the 3rd category can't get loans for their children to join university.

"Using Ubudehe in the implementation of certain policies should be revisited," Nyirabagenzi said, pointing at higher education.

MP Ignacienne Nyirarukundo agreed and she suggested that students' marks should be the sole criteria for availing government funds for higher education instead of looking at Ubudehe categories.

"We should be looking at students' marks instead of Ubudehe categories while issuing study loans. That way the bursaries will be based on merit instead of people's economic status," she said.

For MP Damien Nyabyenda, the Ministry of Education should conduct research about the number of students who have failed to join university as a result of using Ubudehe categories.

"Research is needed to ensure that we get the number of students who couldn't go to university as a result of their families' Ubudehe category and the Ministry of Education should conduct this study to ensure that we understand the extent of the problem," he said.

According to MPs, among other challenges for people in the Northern and Western provinces at the moment include the issue of injustice whereby there are certain delays in executing court judgments, delays in making VUP payments, polygamy and lack of family planning, as well as animals in national parks such as chimps that threaten people's security.

The MPs resolved to bring all the challenges found on the ground to the attention of different government officials in charge of them at the central government level so they can come up with solutions.

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