Spending estimates for 2019-2020 submitted to parliament today indicate that government will put less money in peacekeeping compared to previous year.
Finance and Economic Planning Minister Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana on Tuesday afternoon appeared before a joint session of both Houses to deliver the budget framework for the coming year.
However, in the full Rwf 2.87 trillion ($3.17b) spending plan, Ndagijimana did not show the lawmakers how much the drop on peacekeeping would be – prompting curious queries from some of them.
Green Party leader Dr Frank Habineza wondered how the government was reducing spending yet more peacekeepers are being deployed regularly.
“How come in your document, we see that the money that we get from UN peacekeeping activities is decreasing, yet yesterday we sent more of our troops for UN missions,” said Habineza.
Rwanda currently has 6,550 troops in various places – making it among the top troop contributors for the UN and African Union. Yesterday, 160 were dispatched to South Sudan on a rotation of those already there.
In response, the Finance Minister told the lawmakers that spending on peacekeeping would be less because there would be no large scale purchase of equipment.
Rwanda, like all countries, does not spend its money on its peacekeepers. Instead, Government makes the payments to keep its men and women at a particular deployment, and in return submits the receipts to the UN for refund – which often takes time.
“We expect to decrease what we will spend on peacekeeping missions because we procured a lot of materials this year which will not be bought next year,” said Dr Ndagijimana.
Total domestic revenue plus the external debt represents a 85.8 percent share of the 2019-20 budget, making a steady move towards the government’s goal of weaning itself completely from aid.
Government will put 244.1 billion in financing crucial government projects such as Bugesera international airport and the expansion of the national carrier RwandAir.
After submitting the budget framework to the Houses, which accepted it, the budget framework now moves to the finance and budget committee of the chamber of Deputies.
The Minister and his technocrats will be appearing regularly to defend each item before the committee.
The final document the two sides agree on will be the national budget to be read in early June along with all the members of the East African Community EAC; Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
It remains to be seen if Burundi and South Sudan will be able to deliver their budgets on same day, as they have not been doing so in previous years.