Rwanda: Make Public Servants' Salaries Priority, MPs Tells Government

Members of Parliament have implored central government to prioritise payment of salaries of public servants during the execution of the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2020/2021.

They made the call on Friday, May 29 during a budget hearing session by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony in which the Ministry of Health and its affiliated agencies where defending the budgetary allocation to the health sector during the upcoming financial year.

For instance, the Ministry of Health highlighted that the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) is facing a funding gap of Rwf540 million for salaries to its medical personnel.

Earlier, on May 26, officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industry expressed concerns that there was no budget for salaries of prospective employees of the newly formed Rwanda Inspectorate, Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (RICA).

The law establishing RICA was enacted in 2017.

The law provides that RICA has responsibilities including to carry out inspection of quality and standards for products such as agrochemicals; unprocessed animal products, unprocessed plants and plant products, food products.

Others are goods and products which are not inspected by other organs [the Rwanda Standards Board, and the Rwanda Food and Drugs Administration] that include construction materials, electrical installation products, parts of electronic appliances, chemicals not intended for treatment or diagnostics, textiles, plastic materials and rubber products, among others.

Soraya Hakuziyaremye, the Minister of Trade and Industry said that RICA has 40 members of staff, while 60 more were expected to be taken on.

She pointed out that the ministry had requisitioned a budget of at least Rwf3 billion for this new Authority in order to enforce its inspection mandate, but that was not provided.

"We had agreed with the Ministry of Finance that we should not employ all workers that RICA needs in the 2020/2021 financial year, but we are concerned that there is even no budget to pay the salary of those it was to start with," she said.

MP Omar Munyaneza, the committee chairperson said that the issue of salaries should be considered with urgency, pointing out that the over Rwf540 million salary gap at CHUK could potentially affect delivery of health services.

"Such funding deficit could hinder the hospital's quest to hire and retain skilled medical doctors. This institution cannot work effectively if it has no money to pay their salary," he said.

Rehema Namutebi, Director General of National Budget at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning said that they will hold talks with concerned ministries to consider how to address the identified funding gaps for employees' salaries.

Meanwhile, MP Munyaneza said that on Tuesday, June 2, the Committee will meet the Minister of Finance so as to discuss major funding issues identified during budget hearing before presenting its assessment report to the Parliament plenary.

entirenganya@newtimesrwanda.com

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