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COUNCIL OF MINISTERS : MEDIA RELEASE CONSECUTIVE TO THE CABINET MEETING ON WEDNESDAY 21 AND THURSDAY 22, JANUARY 2015

The following items were analyzed :

1. Bill pertaining to the Postal and Electronic Communications presented by the Minister of Telecommunications, Communication, Information and Relations with the Parliament.

This bill is further to the guidelines of the National Policy over the Development of Information and Communication Technology adopted by the Government in July 2011.

In its turn, this Policy is in line with the guidance of regional and international organizations involved in the development of Communications and Posts and which Burundi is a member, recommending that the postal and electronic communications fall under the control of the same entity.

The project aims to adapt legislation to the development of electronic communications and postal sectors. It will also enable the Government to relocate posts next to ICT in order to take into account the requirements of the convergence of technologies and evolve towards the "all digital".

It should be reminded that this issue had been examined at the Cabinet Meeting of July 16-17, 2014 and was returned to include the opinions and considerations of the Cabinet. After analyzing the reshaped bill, the Cabinet noted that all the observations have been taken into account and approved it.

2. Bill on the ratification by the Republic of Burundi of the Agreement on the establishment of the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) presented by the Minister of External Relations and International Cooperation.

The Eastern Africa Standby Force is a part of the African architecture for peace and security established as a regional mechanism for the prevention, handling and resolution of conflicts in Eastern Africa. The agreement on its establishment was signed in Malabo June 26, 2014 by ten countries including Burundi.

Its mission is to build the capacity of the troops stationed in the member countries to support peace backing operations and keep them on standby for response operations in case of conflict in the region.
The bill was approved.

3. Bill on ratification by the Republic of Burundi of the Funding Agreement No. D0250 for the The Eighth Economic Reform Support Grant (ERSG) amounting to 25 million US dollars granted by the International Development Association to the Government of the Republic of Burundi for the fiscal year 2014 presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Planning.

The Government of Burundi has benefited since 2007 from 7 Support Grants for Economic Reform. These donations were used to support the economic reform programs for the adjustment and macroeconomic stability, transparency in public financial management systems, improving the business climate and private sector development.

During this period, significant progress has been made in these areas. Thus, given that very significant advances were observed and which were prerequisites, the Board of Directors of the World Bank has approved the ERSG Donation of 25 million US dollars whose agreement was signed on January 19, 2015. This bill is proposed in order to ratify this agreement.

The bill was approved.

4. Bill on ratification of the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of Burundi on financing the construction of the Presidential Palace and projects selected by the two governments signed in Bujumbura August 21, 2009.

5. Bill on ratification of the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of Burundi on financing of projects selected by the two governments signed in Bujumbura September 16, 2011.

These two bills were presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Planning.

The first bill relates to an interest free loan of 50 million yuans repayable from September 2019 for a period of ten years, while the second is also an interest free loan amounting to 100 million yuans repayable over a period of ten years starting from October 2021.

Both bills were approved.

6. The National Policy on Migration presented by the Home Affairs Minister.

This policy is an important tool to manage migration for national interest, security of the people of Burundi and foreigners living in Burundi. It discusses the various aspects and determines the objectives related to border management, entry and residence of foreigners, travel documents, regular and irregular migration, the Burundian Diaspora, etc.

This policy was approved.

7. Draft decree pertaining to the typical organization of Administration Departments and their Finances for Ministries and other Public Institutions presented by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Planning.

The objective of this draft is to fill the void that exists in budget management. The structuring of budget management function is a prerequisite for the implementation of public finance modernization reforms. This is to better empower ministries and other public institutions in budget management.

After discussions, the Cabinet found that this structure would have implications for the organization of the Ministries and their existing structures with the risk of disrupting their operation. A team was set up to continue to reflect on this idea until the results of the audit currently being conducted by the Court of Auditors.

8. Draft decree setting the maxima profit margins applicable to human medicines and other health products presented by the Minister of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS.

The study conducted in 2013 on drug availability and their cost revealed that they are very expensive and inaccessible to the majority of the population. If prices are regulated at the level of public health facilities, it is not the same in the private sector. The latter remains with great freedom to set prices and profit margins applied by wholesalers and retailers are relatively higher. This draft decree therefore sets the maximum profit margins applicable to the drug to get them accessible to the public.

Following discussions, the Cabinet found it necessary to conduct further consultations with all stakeholders particularly consumers to prevent any backlash the measures may produce on intended effects. The text will be returned within one month together with its implementing regulations.

9. Draft Ministerial Ordinance setting the principles applicable to lecturing staff in higher education institutions in Burundi presented by the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

Higher education has been growing in Burundi for roughly ten years. Unfortunately, higher education institutions are suffering from a deficiency of lecturers. This is why it is observed an uncontrolled mobility of lecturers from one institution to another under conditions negotiated between the institution and the lecturer.

This situation is a consequence of the lack of an adequate regulatory text governing the control of this mobility, with an effect on the quality of teaching, the elasticity of academic years, academic and administrative management challenges for lecturers, not to mention the supervision of students’ academic papers, etc ..., and the current draft is proposed to address these problems.

The Council approved it with minor amendments.

10. Bill amending the Legislative Decree No. 1/033 of 30 June 1993 concerning plants protection in Burundi presented by the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock.

Since the promulgation of the Legislative Decree whose revision is proposed, Burundi has acceded to various international conventions on the protection of plants. By ratifying these conventions, Burundi committed to implement legal and institutional frameworks to ensure better protection of plants.
Against the requirements of the various conventions subsequent to the 1993 Legislative Decree, it appears that it has become obsolete and this project will fill the identified gaps and address its various requirements.

After much discussion on this bill, the Cabinet noted that it still requires technical improvements and consequently commissioned a team to finalize it in the light of the comments made and decide especially if the text shall take the form of a law or a decree.

11. Pesticides management Bill presented by the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock.

Pesticides management is governed by the 1993 Legislative Decree on plant protection and other legal or regulatory provisions dispersed in other texts.

Over the last twenty years, legal frameworks especially international ones governing pesticides trade have undergone significant changes that allowed for measures to properly use these pesticides in order to improve agriculture without harming public health and the environment.

In addition to taking into account the requirements of international legal instruments for better management of pesticides, this project also aims at condensing in the same text legislation that until now was scattered.

After deliberations, the Council approved the draft with some amendments, however, with the recommendation to an established team to ensure whether the text should take the form of a legislative law or a decree.

Done at Bujumbura, January 23, 2015

Philippe NZOBONARIBA
Secretary-General and Spokesman
of the Government.-

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