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Burundi To Spend U$834million In Fiscal Year 2020-2021




Parliament in Burundi voted overwhelmingly to pass a budget worth 1,576,000,000,000 Burundi Francs (U$834,298,152) to be spent in the Fiscal year 2020-2021.

On Tuesday, Domitien Ndihokubwayo, Minister of Finance presented to the National Assembly the bill establishing the general budget of the state, fiscal year 2020-2021.

However, some members of parliament have expressed concerns over mismanagement of public funds and lack of accountability in the past five years.

“Since 2016, we have passed laws fixing the general budget, but we have never seen how it was used,” says MP Pamphile Malayika.

He wonders why the Ministry of Finance has never presented the reports on these budgets, when they keep increasing every year.

In his presentation, the Finance Minister indicated that the budget brings in new headings including the coverage of medical care for state retirees, an amount of 2.5 billion BIF expected.

He said more than 1.576 billion BIF, this is the amount planned for general government expenditure.

Under this budget, the government plans to recruit 1,000 teachers and 201 healthcare providers.

Pascal Nyabenda, President of the National Assembly asked if the manpower to be recruited were fixed on the basis of the means deployed by the general budget or by the need to hire them.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that BIF 2.7 billion is the sum granted to the Ministry of Education, Technical and Vocational Training to cover the recruitment of these 1,000 teachers.

A sum of BIF 854.1 million is intended for the Ministry of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS for the nursing staff to be recruited.

On a sad note, the Independent National Commission for Human Rights has been allocated meager resources causing a major rift during the budget presentation in parliament.

Thérence Manirakiza demanded answers why limited resources are allocated to certain state commissions, such as the CNIDH.

“When presenting its achievements, the CNIDH said that the lack of financial resources is one of the major challenges it faces. It should be seen in your ministry, how to increase the means allocated to this commission”, he pleaded.

Domitien Ndihokubwayo, Minister of Finance did not lack words to respond to these queries on the controversial budget.

“I am like a parent who feeds many children who are never full,” the Minister said, adding that there are not enough means to support the Human Rights commission.

For the question of the non-communication on the use of the budget for the last five years, he admitted the mistake made but he did not want to take all the responsibility. He blamed the failure on IT department in his office as well as an insufficient staff.

Despite the back and forth arguments, the bill establishing the general state budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year was adopted by 100% of the vote.

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Equity Bank Rwanda Launches Payment Card Usage campaign With Visa



Equity Bank Rwanda Launches Payment Card usage campaign with Visa. Equity Bank Rwanda has today launched an exciting Visa Card Promotion that seeks to promote usage and payments of goods and services.

The campaign will see customers win exciting prizes ranging from Household Appliances, Brand New Laptops, Supermarket Vouchers, Travel Vouchers, and many more exciting monthly prizes. Launch the new Campaign, Hannington Namara, the Managing Director, said “We are excited to launch this promotion that has been designed to create awareness about the different types of cards as well as the different benefits that customers get when they choose Equity Bank Visa Cards. This promotion will go a step further and reward those who use their cards to make payments both Online and in the Store.”

“Equity Bank offers Different Visa Cards ranging from Debit Cards, Credit Cards and soon introducing Prepaid Cards. This campaign will educate customers about each type of card, the different outlets or locations that accept Equity Visa Cards whether it is online, in the store locally or abroad when they have travelled.” he added.

The key insight behind this campaign is that customers lose a lot of time going to the ATM to withdraw cash only to go into a supermarket, petrol station or pharmacy to pay for goods and services for free.

This campaign will bring to life the customer journey of an Equity Bank Visa Card holder and draw attention to the convenience enjoyed by Equity Card Holders and reward customers every month from June to December 2021. Announcing this campaign, Namara also introduced a first-in-the-market USD- denominated Equity Bank Visa Gold Debit Card.

The Gold-rated card is the first of its kind in the Rwandan market and targets to provide convenience to the bank’s customers, who are looking to make purchases online or trade using the USD currency, Hannington Namara said that the card will enable our customers to do transaction in USD currency for free.

Equity Bank Rwanda currently issues Debit, Credit and will soon issue Prepaid Visa Cards to its customers and they include Equity Bank Visa Infinite Card, a Premium Card that gives cardholders Free Travel Insurance that covers the spouse and children plus Unlimited Access to more than 800 Airport langues around the world.

Equity Bank’s Commercial Direictor, Jean Claude Gaga says that the cards offer an affordable and secure solution to the customer and will go a long way in providing the much-needed convenience and freedom.

“Our promise is to continue to give Rwandans more convenience, comfort, and control of their financial needs, by saving time and costs while carrying out transactions especially as we continue to observe safe health measures against covid-19,” he said.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gaga took the opportunity to high the fact that all cards issued by Equity are contactless, a feature that shortens the amount of time that a customer spends when making payments in crowded stores such as supermarkets, hotels.

Speaking at the Launch event, Salma Ingabire, Country Director for Visa in Rwanda said, “We are delighted to partner with Equity bank on this timely campaign to enhance the adoption of digital payments as well as inspire and inform merchants and consumers on the benefits and effectiveness of using Visa cards.”

The campaign will run for 12 months, featuring popular brand ambassadors with huge fan bases on Rwanda’s social media platform, Bamenya and Miss Honorine Uwase.

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Kenya Faces High Risk of Debt Distress



The World Bank has warned Kenya is destined for a high risk of debt distress as it hopes for a return to fiscal consolidation by the government to smooth the debt vulnerabilities over the medium term.

According to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) debt sustainability analysis (DSA) published in April 2021, Kenya will be in significant breaches of key debt metrics in the run up to the redemption of a U$2 billion Eurobond in 2024.

Nevertheless, the World Bank does not see a critical refinancing risk even as it hopes to see the implementation of sound debt management operations to cool off the debt concerns.

The World Bank meanwhile expects Kenya to leverage the extended debt service suspension initiative (DSSI) to December this year as part of interventions to free fiscal space.

So far Kenya has saved an estimated Ksh.68.9 billion ($639 million) from its participation in the DSSI between January and June 2021.

The World Bank projects savings of up to U$1 billion by Kenya, if it takes up the offer for a further deferment of external debt obligations.

The World Bank projects 2020 growth at -0.3%. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) is yet to publish the 2021 Economic Survey outlining the country’s GDP metrics through last year.

Meanwhile, the World Bank projects Kenya’s growth to bounce back to a rate of 4.5% this year after plunging into negative territory in 2020.

The new projection is contained in a new report tied to the recent U$750 million financing to the country announced on Friday.

World Bank attributes the expected turnaround to the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines which have partly normalized economic activities to pre-pandemic levels.

“The base case projection factors in that COVID-19 vaccination has begun in Kenya, contributing progressively to a normalization in economic activity. The base case also assumes that normal weather supports agricultural production,” notes the report.

“On the domestic front, a final key assumption underpinning the base case is that the government resumes fiscal consolidation in the upcoming 2021/22 fiscal year, mitigating the risk of crowding out and opening more space for private credit extension and supporting investor confidence and growth.

On the external front, global economic recovery is expected to lift the demand for Kenya’s merchandise exports in 2021, but a fuller recovery in services exports (mainly tourism) is expected only in 2022 and beyond.”

Further, the World Bank expects Kenya’s current account deficit to widen on the rebounding of domestic demand which is set to fuel imports as firms increase input purchases.

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Ethiopia’s Boeing 737 max Resumes Flights In July



Ethiopian Airlines says it is satisfied with modifications made to the flight-control system of the Boeing 737 Max and may return it to the skies next month.

According to the carrier’s chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam, following a “thorough analysis” covering technical, commercial and operational factors, “we decided to continue with the [Max]”.

Ethiopian Airlines might resume operations with its four grounded Max 8 jets in July – and that it will also continue with its order for 25 more of the type.

Several national and international aviation safety agencies cleared the Max to resume commercial flights.

Ethiopian has “also been following up through our expert technicians, engineers and pilots”, Gebremariam says, and they “seem to be satisfied” that the modifications mandated will fully address issues with design of the MCAS flight-control system.

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