Opinion:Moving forward: An RPF policy shift

This post has already been read 9585 times!

By Rama Isibo


  • Changing the provisions in the constitution to allow for a Vice-president, elected alongside the president. The VP would be appointed for now but in future be along the president on a ticket. This would end the thorny issue of succession in case of a sudden emergency, it will also allow the grooming of successors
  • Reduction of presidential terms from 7 to 4 years, to be effective from 2017. This speeds up the election cycle and promotes more accountability as people would elect and recall quicker. It also keeps the political system vibrant and with higher turnover.
  • The Prime-minister will be chose by parliament, it will be his/her job to oversee legislation and implementation of govt policy. The prime-minister would be a sitting MP, and there subject to election.
  • Parliament will be expanded to 120 seats, roughly representing 100,000 people per constituency. All MP’s directly elected by constituency voters in a parliamentary election held halfway through a 4 year presidential term. No appointed MP’s or representatives.
  • Senate to be appointed by parties, according to proportion of the vote.
  • Districts will be reduced from 30 to 12, the rest being sub-districts. A small country like Rwanda does not need 30 districts, it adds on an extra cost layer. Constituencies are better placed to represent and serve people with 100,000 instead of 300,000 residents. This way we can focus on building 12 cities instead of 30. Even the umurenge and akagari levels should be streamlined with fewer offices.
  • Provinces to be abolished, no need for extra layer of government, the small size of Rwanda means it can be governed without provinces.
  • Ministries reduced to 12, with secretaries of state heading ministries
  • Police to be divided into district forces, with strict jurisdiction so 12 local forces, the police to shift towards community policing, meaning the serve where they live and grew up. A separate licensing agency set to reduce possible police corruption in permits and speeding tickets
  • Passport and ID also be moved to a separate agency empowered by parliament
  • An end to law allowing pre-trial detention of suspects, allowing for bail conditions except for extremely grave crimes
  • A commission to review the possibility of jury trials similar to what was seen in Gacaca be extended to judge civil and criminal trials
  • A review and mass-amnesty of petty convictions to reduce prison numbers, this should help reduce costs and prison numbers


  • A fundamental shift in economic policy towards SME’s and producing more enabling legislation with less focus on regulation and restriction.
  • Rolling back of restrictive regulations, Rwanda copy and pastes legislation from 1st world countries like Singapore, UK, when we don’t have the same capacity. It acts as an entry barrier to sectors, making it expensive to invest in Rwanda when the price of transport is already exorbitant. Let us start with lower standards and build up our capacity, instead of setting high standards which add to cost.
  • Regulatory bodies that restrict business will be abolished, with regulation turned over to the sectors themselves in line with law. Bodies like Rwanda Bureau of Standards, RURA, etc to be scrapped.
  • All new businesses to be tax-exempt for their first year, with no local or government taxes paid up front, and income/corporation tax not payable till 18 months after start up.
  • A comprehensive overhaul of government spending, with an independent audit to close down loss-making parastatals such as Onatracom, BRD, selling off ventures like Rwandair which borrowed $225m last year in non-concessional borrowing and this will have an effect of inflation. An overall reduction of 10% in all spending.
  • A new bankruptcy law closing down any company which makes losses for 3 years in a row with a windup order. This will stop loss-making RPF companies from being a drain because they are held for prestige or strategic value.
  • A total divestment of government from the private sector, offices like OCIR-tea and Coffee will all be sold off.
  • A move toward production, all costs from manufacturing will be tax-deductable, as well as staff wages, to encourage employment
  • Employment be the centre of Govt strategy, every Rwandan to be issued with a Tax-number and be required to be accountable for their taxation.
  • Special tax and export credits for exporters, all monies kept in Rwandan banks by exporters will be tax-free.
  • A devaluation of the Rwanda franc, the franc is over-valued because of the reliance of aid, this hurts exports and makes us uncompetitive, a slide towards 1,500 to the dollar would make it more viable for regional trade.
  • We have to review our regional tax policy, imports are really hurting us, we cannot tax goods above 5% but a carbon tax would help offset the cheap cost of transport vs manufacturing
  • We have to move toward import substitution, we import toothpicks, straws, salt, almost everything. We have to set up programs that give tax-breaks to those who reduce imports.

Aid Dependency is a threat to our sovereignty and national security

  • A commitment to reduce aid every year by 5-10% with a built in Aid-decelerator, dependency must be reduced in proportion and in real terms, we must sign agreements with donors that gradually reduce the aid, instead of increase.
  • A total prioritisation of government spending towards Health and Education, aid money should never pay for our children’s education. We rely on aid because we cannot prioritise what to spend our little money on.
  • All future aid should be aimed at the development of commerce, manufacturing, more cooperation and technology transfer. Aid must be money-generating and not just dead spending. For example NGO’s would have to have ongoing profitable projects that fund them in Rwanda, like having cars for hire, or moto-drivers. To both provide sustainable income and local employment.
  • NGO’s would be required to employ 80% of staff locally, this will reduce the brain-drain and provide employment.
  • An end to poverty reduction and such strategies towards a program of wealth creation. It is commendable that in 5 years 1m Rwandans have been pulled out of poverty, but 1.5m new Rwandans have been born in that time. At this rate we cannot keep up with population growth, we need a new way to end poverty and that is by creating employment. Besides being slow, these programs are expensive.
  • Empower individuals to take control of their lives and not expect government to help everything. The more you help, the more cost.
  • More encouragement of cooperation between public and private sector, quite often the aid sector comes in to cover where the private sector failed.
  • Make it harder for aid agencies and NGO’s to register, require the NGO’s to spend at least 70% of their budget here.
  • Require NGO’s to file tax-returns, even though they are tax-free but to monitor spending. NGO’s have a huge distorting effect on a local economy, pumping informal foreign money in the economy, tax all non-essential items.


  • All future government policies to be geared towards the creation of employment
  • Employment data to be released monthly, excluding seasonal farm workers
  • Policy to shift towards formalisation and regularisation of workers through skills assessment done by guilds or cooperatives of workers
  • Target NGO’s and aid activity that teaches skills and transfers them
  • Free training for vocational courses, with equal emphasis with University education
  • Creation of employment bureaus that foster employment locally, register unemployed workers details, connect people with jobs
  • The reduction in process and time it takes to register a new employee
  • Allowing vendors and hawkers, street food, kiosks, etc, in certain designated areas to allow for more self-employment
  • Reduced payroll tax for employers
  • A creation of an independent local tax agents to streamline tax collection
  • Outsourcing other government services to locally trained people who charge and provide services

Economic transformation


  • Many efforts have been made to make Rwanda self-sufficient in food, this might be a futile gesture considering our population increases 300,000 every year with the average Rwandan having a acre per family of 7. We need to move towards cash crops
  • Create a special government program that imports food and provides it at a subsidised rate for those involved in a cash-crop swap program. We are wasting our 26,000 sq km on beans and sweet potatoes
  • Create a commodities exchange like the one in Ethiopia, to make pricing competitive
  • Stop any forcing or pressurising policy in agriculture, let them be entirely voluntary, many forced agricultural policies like making farmers grow maize are very unpopular
  • Encourage better use of the land with sharecropping, outcropping, cooperative use of fallow land
  • Create 12 district agro-processing centers with refrigeration containers and dry storage. This will prevent waste of produce that loses us millions a year


  • Increasing the electricity available by integrating our electricity grid to East Africa, the Omo valley dam is going to supply Kenya and relieve Uganda, we need to connect to that grid, to make the regional power market integrated, thus reducing and standardising the cost of power regionally
  • Delaying moving the industrial area near Gikondo for a few years, it is over $1 billion of infrastructure being moved because it is in a wetland, too expensive to waste now
  • Easing of restriction facing opening of industries, red tape, regulation, environmental barriers, more emphasis should be put on employment and development of human capital as opposed to rigid regulation
  • Easing of packaging restriction by REMA, the main obstacle to an agro-processing industry is that plastic packaging is banned. This means they cannot start the first step of agro-processing which is quality control and packaging. Plastic bags would still be banned but plastic packaging would be allowed for local manufactured products as they are for imports.
  • Reduction in imports of cheap goods, let an import quota be set to reduce our deficit and peg it to our exports
  • Manufacturers to have a lower tax rate than others, at around 15%
  • Artisanal manufacturing to be encouraged, formalised, and invested in. A network of family-owned small factories that feed bigger factories like in Japan
  • Seeking investment in manufacturing to be a priority, over and above ICT, with the millions invested in ICT diverted towards manufacturing

This post has already been read 9585 times!



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