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Funds allocated to cooperatives, embezzled or mismanaged, must be paid back

ByWebmaster

Feb 23, 2023

BUJUMBURA February 23rd (ABP) – Those responsible for the embezzlement or mismanagement of the money that the government granted to cooperatives will have to pay it back, said the Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Mr. Audace Niyonzima, when answering the oral questions posed to him on Tuesday February 21, 2023 by the MPs. During the presentation of the report made after the trip of the MPs to evaluate the adequacy of the projects of the village cooperatives compared to those registered in the Communal Community Development Plans (PCDC).

Two other ministers, Mr. Martin Niteretse responsible for the Interior and Community Development, Mr. Sanctus Niragira in charge of agriculture and livestock concerned by that report were also invited to answer questions concerning them. To remedy embezzlement and mismanagement, Mr. Niyonzima considers that training is necessary for cooperative members in the management of a cooperative. He called on communal administrators to provide the technical support needed by cooperatives in difficulty.

The MPs wanted to know if the cooperative societies are in the process of raising the development of the country as desired and if that ministry has already carried out a study to ascertain the situation. In that regard, Minister Niyonzima replied that some cooperatives are on the right track even if there are others who are lagging behind.

Mr. Niyonzima acknowledged that this ministry has not conducted any studies in this area, adding that the conclusions drawn are recorded in two studies conducted by FONIC. According to those studies, the results were positive for 62% of the cooperative groups in the country in 2020-2021, while in 2021-2022 those positive results concerned 70% of those groups. When asked whether the ministry in charge of finance has conducted studies on the supervision of cooperatives, the minister replied in the negative way. He pointed out that this ministry has carried out the budget planning according to the directives of the government. For him, much remains to be done even within this ministry, as is the case in other institutions, to have a clear vision of the philosophy around cooperative societies.

In addition, the MPs wanted to know why the periods of execution of the PCDCs of the communes are not the same, Minister Niyonzima indicated that the delays are attributable to the communes which must prepare those PCDCs. The communes that find the funds for the development of those PCDCs in the first place are those that come first for the execution, others lag behind.

He pointed out that not all communes in Bubanza province and two communes in Cibitoke province have drawn up PCDCs due to lack of funds for the production of the manual. To remedy this, he proposed to the communes to integrate the budget for the drawing up of those manuals in the previous PCDCs, so as not to rely on the funds of potential partners who are slow to come. In addition, Mr. Niyonzima explained that the implementation delays are attributable to the poorly prepared PCDC manuals, which must be redone, experts from the Ministry of Finance being called upon to retouch them by providing technical support.

The minister in charge of finance asks communal administrators to invite the ministry when those manuals are drawn up.

As food prices went up, MPs asked the Minister in charge of finance whether it was not preferable to apply exemptions on imported foodstuffs. Mr. Niyonzima said that this is not a response to the rise in food prices but that the main thing is to increase production. Price fluctuation obeys the sole law of supply and demand, he said.