Rwanda: How Much Does Govt Spend on Renting Public Offices?

Government is taking proactive steps to address the issue of exorbitant office rental costs for public entities, which amount to approximately Rwf12 billion annually.

According to Noel Nsanzineza, the acting Director General of the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA), the government currently rents 85,000 square meters (m2) of office space for 35 public entities, including agencies and courts of law.

To mitigate this financial burden, the government aims to acquire its own buildings capable of accommodating these entities.

Members of Parliament have expressed concerns over the escalating costs associated with renting public offices.

The Supreme Court, for instance, operates from a rented building that costs Rwf117 million per month, totaling Rwf1.4 billion annually.

During a recent budget hearing, MP Beline Uwineza, the Vice Chairperson of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), emphasized the urgency of addressing this issue, which was initially highlighted in the 2020 report by the Auditor General.

Uwineza stressed the need for the Supreme Court to have its own office building, as the substantial rental expenses incurred over time result in significant financial losses.

Echoing this sentiment, Beth Murora, the Secretary General of the Supreme Court, expressed the court's desire to secure its own office premises to alleviate the burden of renting.

In response to these concerns, the Ministry of Infrastructure, in collaboration with the Rwanda Housing Authority, has devised a plan to acquire office buildings for public entities.

Fidele Abimana, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, highlighted that the funds required for purchasing or constructing these buildings would amount to the rent paid over a period of 12 years.

Moreover, such buildings could serve the public entities for up to 50 years, resulting in long-term cost savings.

Considering that Rwf12 billion is spent annually on rent, which could otherwise fund the construction of approximately 2,000 classrooms based on Ministry of Education data, the government could potentially save Rwf360 billion within a 30-year timeframe.

Abimana emphasized that a study is underway to enhance the design of these buildings and identify potential funding sources.

A pre-financing model is being considered to expedite the acquisition process, as it offers a viable solution to redirect the money spent on rent toward more productive endeavors.

Nsanzineza expressed optimism about the forthcoming projects that will provide ample office space for public entities within the next five to six years.

Once completed, the government plans to utilize the funds previously allocated for rent to repay any loans taken for the construction or acquisition of these buildings.

This strategic approach aims to optimize financial resources and generate long-term benefits for the government and its public entities.

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