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The East African : March 10th 2014
16 LEGISLATORS CONCERNED ABOUT GOVT BORROWING MPs question funding mega projects Rwanda has been bo≥≥owing heavily to finance investments like RwandaAi≥, Kigali Convention Cent≥e By ALEX NGARAMBE The EastAfrican R wandan legislators have questioned plans by the government to invest in long-term commercial ventures. The government has been bor- rowing heavily to finance investments that include the country’s national airline — RwandAir — and the Kigali Convention Centre. The concerns were raised during a parliamentary session in which the Ministry of Finance presented a revised budget for 2013/2014. The Treasury plans to increase spending to Rwf1,677.7 billion ($2.46 million) from the original budget of Rwf1,653 billion ($2.44 million) an increase of Rwf24.2 billion ($35.7 million), on account of improved donor sentiment that has seen full restoration of aid. In the revised budget, funds to RwandaAir were increased from the initial Rwf22 billion ($32.3 million) to Rwf29 billion ($42.7 million). However, the lawmakers questioned the rationale of increasing spending on the national carrier in the revised budget. Juvenal Nkusi, the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee said he wants to see a speedy implementation of all pending projects that have been funded. “There is no excuse as to why big projects should remain unfinished even when the funds have been made available,” said Mr Nkusi. Although RwandaAir is yet to break even and is saddled with huge debts, the government’s budget went up by Rwf32.5 billion ($47.9 million) to repay loans for the airline. RwandAir has been investing heavily in equipment to facilitate its aggressive expansion plans, a A RwandAir aircraft. The national carrier is set to receive more funds in the revised budget. Picture: File move that has seen it grow its fleet to eight aircrafts. It also introduced new destinations in West Africa, South African and Dubai as well as increasing flight frequency on traditional destinations. Borrowing The government has been bor- rowing to finance the $300m Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) — a facility that will house the five-star Radisson Blu hotel with 292 rooms, an information technology office park and a conference hall that can seat 2,600 people — which it hopes will boost the service sector. Though the KCC might not open until 2015, the Radisson Blu hotel is scheduled to open by mid-2014. While construction works on the “Projects like the Kigali Convention Centre have seen the budget increase many times but we are yet to see their completion.” Julienne Uwacu, an MP project commenced in 2009 and are expected to be ready by 2012, lack of funds delayed its completion, following the 2008 financial crisis and the reluctance by private investors who considered the project too ambitious and unrealistic given the country’s relatively small size. This forced the government — a major shareholder in the project with a 50 per cent stake — to take the lead in mobilising resources. Some $120 million of the $400 million, which was borrowed through the Eurobond, was to be used to repay an outstanding loan taken to finance the project. “Projects like the Kigali Conven- tion Centre have seen the budget increase many times but we are yet to see their completion and the Treasury is starved of revenues from such delayed mega investments,” said Julienne Uwacu, an MP. The government is increasing its budget, mainly because of improved donor relations that have led to some bilateral donors resuming aid while other development partners have increased their original contributions. INVESTMENTS The Treasury plans to increase spending to $2.46 million from the original budget of $2.44 million an increase of $35.7 million, on account of improved donor sentiment that has seen full restoration of aid. In the revised budget, funds to RwandaAir were increased from the initial $32.3 million to $42.7 million. The government has been borrowing to finance the $300m Kigali Convention Centre — a facility that will house the fivestar Radisson Blu hotel with 292 rooms, an information technology office park and a conference hall that can seat 2,600 people. However, Finance Minister Claver Gatete said the completion of the Kigali Convention Centre had been delayed by a technical glitch. “Even when the funds are there, the construction is supervised by a firm different from the constructors and contractual challenges delay the speed,” said Mr Gatete. While the government has se- cured all the necessary funding for the project after borrowing $400 million from the international market earlier this year, the construction firm says the project could be completed by 2015. The EastAfrican NEWS MARCH 8-14,2014 Kenya, UK make cance≥ discove≥y By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI Special Correspondent SCIENTISTS from Kenya and the United Kingdom have discovered a cure for the early stages of cervical cancer using a commonly used HIV drug, lopinavir. The announcement is a major breakthrough that will help reduce, by almost half, the up to 9,000 deaths in the region that occur every year due to cervical cancer, especially among poor women. Cervical cancer is caused by an infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV) and is more than five times more prevalent in East Africa than the UK. “The drug will only be of help if women are diagnosed early,” said Peter Gichangi, a consultant gynaecologist at Kenyatta National Hospital and lecturer at the University of Nairobi. Availability Lopinavir, in its current for- mulation is available in capsules, tablets and oral solution. The researchers from the Uni- versity of Manchester and Kenyatta National Hospital however developed the drug into pessaries in gel form so that it can be applied directly to the cervix. “In gel form the drug can melt easily, faster and smear itself on the walls of the cervix where these cancerous cells are found,” said Dr Gichangi. Oraro Maranga, the lead study researcher in Kenya and a consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology at KNH, said that out of the six HIV drugs that were tested on the HPV cells during the laboratory test, lopinavir showed 100 per cent efficacy levels due to its high concentration levels that make it kill the cancerous HPV cells. The laboratory tests were con- ducted at the University of Manchester and the phase one trials were then conducted at KNH. South Af≥ica and Rwanda engage in diplomatic ≥ow ove≥ so-called dissidents By A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT The EastAfrican A DIPLOMATIC row has broken out between Rwanda and South Africa in the wake of a recent attack on the residence of Rwandan dissident Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, only two months after the murder of another Rwandan in South Africa. Officials in Kigali confirmed that South African authorities on Friday gave two diplomats at the Rwandan High Commission in Pretoria 48 hours to leave the country. Details of the reasons for their expulsion were not given. The EastAfrican has established that Pretoria is investigating the murder of Rwanda’s former spy chief Patrick Karegeya on January 1, and a recent attack on the home of Lt Gen Nyamwasa. It is not clear if the expulsions are linked to the two incidents. In retaliation, Rwanda expelled six high ranking South African diplomats on allegations of espionage. The six do not include the High Commissioner George Twala. Rwanda’s foreign Minister Louise Mushiki- wabo confirmed the expulsion of South Africa diplomats: “We have expelled six South African diplomats in reciprocity and concern at the country harbouring dissidents responsible for terrorist attacks in Rwanda,” she said on her Twitter account on Friday evening. The South African government was yet to come up with an official position on the matter. It is not the first time diplomatic ties be- tween the two countries have suffered. In August 2010, South Africa recalled its ambassador to Rwanda Gladstone Dumisani Gwadiso, two months after an assassination attempt on Lt Gen Nyamwasa. South Africa, however, said it did not have any intentions of expelling the Rwandan ambassador but said it recalled its own for “consultations.” However, reports indicated that South Africa was angered after investigations revealed Kigali’s hand in the attack. Mending fences In June 2011, President Jacob Zuma named a new envoy to Rwanda and relations between the two countries have been slowly getting back on track, until the murder of Col Karegeya, which has also been blamed on Kigali. The South Af- Jan 1 The EastAfrican has established that Pretoria is investigating the murder of Rwanda’s former spy chief Patrick Karegeya on January 1 rican government was yet to publish a report on the outcome of the investigations when the recent attack on Lt Gen Nyamwasa’s home happened. A group of armed men stormed Nyamwa- sa’s house in South Eastern Johannesburg on Monday “looking for him.” The South African Police Spokesperson Paul Ramaloko said the men are yet to be identified. Rwanda National Congress, the opposition party co-founded by General Nyamwasa, said that the former Army Chief of Staff and his family survived because at the time of the attack they were not in the house. Theogene Rudasingwa, the co-ordinator of the opposition group said that he “has no doubt that those who have always attempted to get rid of General Nyamwasa may also be behind the attack,” adding that there is no doubt they are linked to Kigali.
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