L-R Finance PS Kampeta Sayinzoga, Minister John Rwangombwa and Abdoulaye Balde of the UN at the DPM meeting. The New Times / Courtesy.

At the 8th Development Partners’ Retreat held at Lake Kivu Serena Hotel, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, John Rwangombwa met with over 100 representatives of donor countries and agencies to thrash out the current standing of important joint initiatives.

“Eighty five per cent of the targets in the first Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) were achieved and we are now looking at the best way possible on how to implement EDPRSII,”  Rwangombwa said at the conference.

“Despite that, we still have many poor people dispersed in different districts, particularly in the Eastern and Southern provinces, due to factors like bad topography, poor soils and poor village settlements that make it difficult for the population to benefit from the services that government provides. For widespread poverty reduction, we must give these districts ample attention.” Rwangombwa said.

The minister further said that the single treasury account on which all major donors are expected to start channelling funds to the government is in the pipeline based on both parties’ agreement last year.

“We have created 14 pilot accounts, which have given us positive results; we are now on course to fully implement the idea,” Rwangombwa noted in an interview with The New Times.

The donors commended Rwanda for its exemplary and world renowned efficiency on aid usage.

“Both the new and old development partners are surprised at the strong ownership of development programmes that the government portrays, a phenomenon that has assured Japan to strongly commit to Rwanda’s growth and overall poverty reduction,” Kunio Hatanaka, Japan’s Ambassador to Rwanda said in an interview.

Although Japan is yet to directly contribute to Rwanda’s national budget, it continues to channel over US$30 million annually to development projects, particularly in agriculture.

“Unlike some countries, Rwanda makes it easy for us to explain to our taxpayers where their money is going; this kind of transparency is what motivates us to continue partnering with Rwanda,” he added.

Both parties agreed that without energy and infrastructural advancements, it would be difficult to transform projects into real poverty reduction, noting that although farmers in the Eastern Province produce a lot of milk, poverty still prevails because of poor storage and transportation facilities.

“Just as President Kagame said in the last leadership’ retreat, the energy sector is key, and yet, the current 15 per cent electrification rate in Rwanda is too low and poses a big challenge to general development. For poverty to be attacked directly, ongoing energy projects must be given priority if poverty is to be attacked,” Hatanaka pointed out.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Kampeta Sayinzoga argued that both parties must embark on cost cutting procedures for aid to be more efficient.

“We have tremendously cut down costs. For example, we reduced the number of our project staff from 43 to 27 to manage ten poverty reduction projects. This has increased efficiency, made our cost structure more affordable and increased project ownership amongst the staff,” she noted.

World Food Programme’s Country Representative, Abdoulaye Balde, commended the government for its efficient and transparent aid policy.

“Rwanda is renowned for its transparency and dynamic and innovative approach to effective implementation of poverty reduction projects as was evidenced through the first EDPRS (Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy).”

A senior economist at Finance ministry, Amina Rwankunda, said that maintaining a low level of inflation, while providing adequate credit to the private sector would promote the required growth this year.

“Looking at the performance of 2011, prices are set to remain stable at single digit levels in 2012. This will boost domestic economic activity,” Rwankunda told the donors.

“Export values are expected to rise by one per cent this year on account of lower global commodity prices. Import values are also expected to increase by 14 per cent this year, due to high energy prices as well as the country’s ever-increasing investment needs.”

During the fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in South Korea last year, Rwangombwa urged donors to continue reciprocating ideas with the government in order to zero down on the best way to implement poverty eradication projects.

By Ivan R. Mugisha, The New Times


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