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MEDIA RELEASE CONSECUTIVE TO THE CABINET MEETING HELD ON FRIDAY 21 DECEMBER 2018

Following a Government Retreat held in the City of Gitega on Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 December 2018, a Cabinet Meeting was held in the same city on Friday 21 December 2018 under the chairmanship of His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi. The following items were analyzed :

1. Bill revising Law No. 1/02 of March 03, 2016 on the review of the Communal Taxation in Burundi, presented by the Minister of the Interior, Patriotic Education and Local Development

Law No. 1/02 of March 3, 2016 on the revising the Communal Taxation in Burundi was implemented after the observation of the low level of local tax revenue. This situation deprived the Communes of means of operation and investment.

This law set up a tax system consisting of eight taxes and duties exclusively allocated to the municipality, namely :

  • The livestock tax
  • Sales tax per livestock
  • The slaughter tax
  • The tax on the cycles
  • Property tax
  • The tax on pylons
  • The annual tax on commercial activities and services
  • The tax on industrial crops, as well as taxes collected by the Government and later transferred to the Communes, namely :
  • Contribution from rental income to the budgets of the Communes
  • Contribution from the Value Added Tax (VAT) to municipal development.

Although this law attempted to solve this problem of financial means for the Communes, it faced a problem of implementation and none of the taxes met the expectations. The tax on products and some industrial crops whose collection procedure eludes the Communes has also not yielded the expected return. The other resources could not be sufficiently mobilized for lack of a periodic review of tariffs when it was necessary.

This project tries to shed light on the way in which communal revenues are fixed and collected. It determines a tax field specific to the Communes and recognizes the power to perform the operations of determination, issue, recovery for all taxes. It clearly determines what is the exclusive responsibility of the Communes and avoids any overlap with the taxes falling within the jurisdiction of the Burundian Revenue Authority.

After exchange and debate on this project, the Council adopted it by integrating the contributions of the members of the Government in its finalization by a team designated for this purpose.

2. Bill establishing the Political Capital and the Economic Capital of Burundi, presented by the Minister of the Interior, Patriotic Education and Local Development.

Since the independence of Burundi on July 1, 1962, successive Constitutions have established the capital of Burundi in Bujumbura, providing nevertheless that it can be transferred to another place of the territory by law. It is in this context that following the 1981 Constitution, several initiatives were undertaken to build administrative buildings in the City of Gitega to house some administrative services formerly housed in Bujumbura to get the administration closer to the citizens.

Even though the Constitution of March 2005 has taken over this provision, no concrete initiative has been taken to transfer the Capital to another part of the territory.

The Constitution of June 2018 clarified the situation by stating that "The capital of Burundi is set in Bujumbura. The law may transfer it to any other place in the Republic of Burundi or separate the political capital from the economic capital". In order to ensure harmonious and balanced development by decongesting certain entities, it is necessary to separate the political capital from the economic capital as the population continues to demand it.

This bill therefore proposes that Bujumbura be the economic capital of the country in terms of the volume of activities that take place there and that Gitega, the center of the country, is the political capital.

This project was adopted with some corrections to be made with the recommendation to take urgent measures to accompany the effective implementation of this law, in particular :

  • The holding of meetings of the Council of Ministers in Gitega from January 2019
  • The relocation of some ministries at first as the Ministry in charge of the Interior, Agriculture, Decentralization, Education and Social Affairs, and see to what extent some National Commissions can work in Gitega as the Commission for Human Rights Commission, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the National Commission of Lands and Other Assets as well as certain Courts such as the Constitutional Court, etc.

Since zero risk does not exist, it is not prudent to have all institutions concentrated in one place. It is always strategic to have a plan B in case of difficulty.

3. Bill revising Law No. 1/24 of 10 September 2008 on the Burundi Investment Code, presented by the Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Development Cooperation.

This bill is an enrichment of the version that was adopted in 2015 but that the Government preferred to remove from the table of Parliament. It had indeed found that all the stakeholders including the representatives of investors did not seem to have been sufficiently involved in its development.

It incorporates relevant opinions and proposals from both public and private institutions involved in the granting and management of tax and customs incentives.

In addition, during the Government Retreat of April 2017, it was recommended among other things the revision of the legal framework on tax and customs incentives.

The Council had analyzed this project and returned it with a series of recommendations to be considered including ensuring criteria for choosing the targeted sectors to benefit from the benefits of the Code and the relevance of the minimum amount of the investment required to benefit from these benefits, etc.

After re-analyzing the project, the Council found that it had to comply with the National Development Plan and that it gave little space to national investors. The project has been returned to be reworked. It will be brought back to the Council of Ministers within a month.

4. Draft decree establishing the National Order of Biomedical Technologists of Burundi "ONATEBU", presented by the Minister of Public Health and the Fight against Aids.

Since November 2014, the Government of Burundi has implemented a National Policy of Laboratories of Medical Biology which aims at the development of this sector. But given the lack of a regulatory body in this sector, the Ministry of Public Health has noted some irregularities including the lack of an interlocutor, a framework for reflection for the development of this sector, lack of ethical rules, etc.

This project is proposed to regulate this sector and regulate all aspects to protect the public by controlling access to the profession, monitoring the practice of the profession and also comply with international and regional standards.

After an exchange and debate on the project, the Council noted that different Orders tend to claim powers that are not theirs with protectionism too exaggerated for lack of a legal framework to which they must comply.

The Council then returned the project and set up a team that will develop a legal framework that traces the functioning of all professional Orders. This team has been given two months to draft this bill.

The draft decree establishing the National Order of Biomedical Technologists of Burundi will be brought back after the establishment of this legal framework at the same time as the draft decree establishing, organizing and operating the National Order of Nursing and Midwives of Burundi, that was also on the agenda.

5. Note on the problem of road maintenance, presented by the Minister of Transport, Public Works, Equipment and Spatial Planning.

The Roads Authority and the National Road Fund were set up respectively by Decree No. 100/117 and No. 100/118 of October 27, 2001. The main mission of the Roads Authority is the monitoring of the situation of the road network, the initiation and supervision of emergency works that occur in the road sector, while that of the National Road Fund is to ensure the financing and the maintenance of the road network classified on the basis of an annual program prepared by the Roads Authority.

These two entities therefore work in complementarity. They are constantly being asked to intervene on the various roads that need to be rehabilitated, while the financial resources have not kept pace with the demand since 2015.

The problem with the road network is due to :

  • Budget ceiling for road maintenance since 2015
  • The lack of routine maintenance activities such as brush clearing, ditching and crossing works removal of landslides
  • The growth of the road network inversely proportional to the annual maintenance budget ;
  • Non-compliance with road maintenance programs that are jointly signed by the Roads Authority and the National Road Fund
  • Provision of services for technical and economic studies of integrative roads to be developed or rehabilitated with financing from external donors which require large amounts, often in foreign currency, thus increasing the budget for road maintenance.
  • In support of the functioning of the Roads Authority, which has been steadily falling since 2013

The solutions recommended through the Note is :

  • Suspend the ceiling measure of the budget of the National Road Fund
  • Make available :

o A budget for emergencies already manifested

o A budget for unforeseen emergencies

o A special budget for carrying out studies for integrative projects

o An annual operating budget sufficient for the Roads Authority

After exchange and debate on this Note, the Council noted dysfunctions in the structures dealing with the road network. It recommended the merger of the Roads Authority, the National Road Fund and the Equipment Rental Agency into one light structure with an alert and surveillance system so that it can intervene as quickly as possible without waiting for the situation to deteriorate. A team has been appointed to set up this structure. The work should have been completed by the end of January 2019.

At the same time, the Anti-Corruption Brigade was asked to carry out investigations in this road sector in the light of the irregularities noted, particularly the contracts for the execution of certain works signed outside the required procedures.

6. Draft Ministerial Order prohibiting the planting of eucalyptus and other species consuming a lot of water in the protection areas of water sources, shallows and swamps, presented by the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Environment.

With a view to the conservation, sustainable management and sustainability of water resources and forests, the Government has put in place tools for managing these resources, including :

  • National water policy
  • The national forest policy
  • The Forest Code
  • The Water Code

Despite all these tools, most water sources are drying up overnight. The causes of this drying up are among others the planting of the species that consume a lot of water such as eucalyptus in the protection zones of the water sources, the lowlands and the marshes. The drainage of the lowlands without proper technical services reinforces the lowering of river levels and the drying of the marshes.

We also note that the forest galleries have been replaced by eucalyptus plantations. In addition, the fact is that once the slums have dried up, the population has a habit of planting fast-growing species, including eucalyptus.
In order to reduce the risk of drying water sources, the water drop and the level of beds of streams, rivers and lakes, this draft ordinance proposes to prohibit planting eucalyptus and other species consuming a lot of water in the protection of water sources, shallows and marshes.

After an exchange on this project, the Council adopted it with some corrections to make with the recommendation to translate the text into Kirundi.

7. Any Other Business

  • The Minister of National Defense and Veterans Affairs informed the Council that Burundi is the chair of the East African Standby Force and that the next meeting will be held in Bujumbura in March or April 2019.
  • The Minister of the Environment, Agriculture and Livestock informed the Council that the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has just granted Burundi a donation of US $ 100 million whose first disbursements will be made during the Month of January 2019.
  • The Minister of Public Health and the Fight against Aids emphasized the good progress of the vaccination campaign against meningitis that was carried out from 04 to 13 December 2018,
  • On behalf of all the members of the Government, the Minister in the Presidency in charge of Good Governance thanked the Head of State for the good advice he has constantly given them, which made it possible to achieve very good results. She wished him all the best for the year 2019, which will soon begin by expressing the wish that God be always near him so that he continues to lead the country well.
  • Reacting to the wishes, His Excellency the Head of State thanked the members of the Government for the efforts made and for the results obtained during this year 2018, which are very good in all sectors. He wished them to continue in the functions entrusted to them and in their personal undertakings and initiatives. He recalled that God is very fond of Burundi and that the year 2019 will be far better than 2018. In conclusion, he wished them a joyful and restful leave. He finally invited those who may be available to join him in giving thanks to God during the prayer to be held in Buye from December 26 to 31, 2018.

Done at Gitega, December 22, 2018

Prosper NTAHORWAMIYE
Secretary-General and Spokesman
of the Government.-

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