• Sun. May 19th, 2024

Adoption of two bills on the ratification by the Republic of Burundi of grant agreement n°E2820-BI and n°E2910-BI between Burundi and IDA

ByWebmaster

Apr 16, 2024

BUJUMBURA, April 15th (ABP) – The Vice-President of the National Assembly, Dr Sabine Ntakarutimana, chaired a plenary session on Friday 12 April 2024, where deputies met to analyse and adopt two bills on the ratification by the Republic of Burundi of the grant agreement between Burundi and the International Development Association (IDA) relating to additional funding for the Digital Economy Foundation Support Project (PAFEN) and that relating to the funding of the project for access to funding for the import of strategic products, signed on 25 January 2024 in Bujumbura.

The Minister for Communication, Information Technologies and the Media, Léocadie Ndacayisaba, and the Minister for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Audace Niyonzima, were on hand to explain the reasons for and clarify the above-mentioned bills.

Mrs Ndacayisaba said that in response to the government’s request to extend the scope of the Digital Economy Foundations Support Project to cover the modernisation of public finance management, the government had negotiated additional funding of USD 42 million from the IDA. She added that that funding is intended to support the implementation of activities under a new PAFEN sub-component, aimed at digitising the entire public finance management chain.

Mrs Ndacayisaba also explained that the aim of that funding is to increase access to broadband internet, particularly for underserved communities, to improve the government’s capacity to manage resources more effectively and deliver public services digitally, to develop efficiency and transparency in key areas of public finance management, to provide a technical assistance mechanism for the government’s main priorities, and to strengthen the PAFEN management unit and rehabilitate a site dedicated to that project.

                                                                                                                                Mrs Léocadie Ndacayisaba

 

The elected representatives wanted to know what activities should be carried out to improve the quality of the Internet, in order to deal with the lamentations of some people who say that they buy expensive megas when the connection leaves something to be desired.

In response to that concern, Mrs Ndacayisaba pointed out that under the PAFEN programme, activities aimed at providing broadband Internet access to underserved communities are underway. She pointed out that the current level of internet coverage in the country is estimated at 22.7%. She added that the same donor had financed the Communal and Regional Infrastructure Project (PICR), which has enabled the national fibre optic backbone to be put in place with a view to achieving the desired connection.

With regard to the amount already disbursed and used from the initial funding, the minister responsible for information technologies stated that the disbursement rate is estimated at 9.9% of the initial funding, explaining that the project has just been implemented for one year out of the six years planned.

With regard to the bill on the financing of the project for access to financing for imports of strategic products, the Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Audace Niyonzima, explained that the IDA has provided a guarantee mechanism of USD 40 million to enable local commercial banks to open letters of credit to support imports by private companies.

                                                                                                                                                         Minister Audace Niyonzima

That facility is intended as a short-term measure to relaunch the trade finance market, to accompany the reform of foreign exchange liberalisation.

According to Mr Niyonzima, the aim of the project is to improve access to trade finance to enable beneficiaries to import essential products such as medicines and chemical fertilisers on the basis of their importance for food security and the health of the population.

Minister Niyonzima pointed out that the success of that financing depends, however, on the implementation of reforms to the foreign exchange liberalisation market, so that local banks and importers have access to foreign currency when the letters of credit expire.