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MEDIA RELEASE CONSECUTIVE TO THE CABINET MEETING HELD ON WEDNESDAY 20 MARCH 2019

A Cabinet Meeting was held in Gitega on Wednesday 20 March 2019 under the chairmanship of His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi. The following items were analyzed :

1. Bill pertaining to the ratification by the Republic of Burundi of the Agreement Establishing the African Free Trade Area (ZLECAF), presented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The idea of creating a free trade zone in Africa dates back to the 1960s. But it was during the Summit of African Heads of State and Government of January 2012 in Addis Ababa that the decision on the framework and the road map to accelerate the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Subsequently, negotiations continued to lead to the agreement establishing the African Free Trade Area (ZLECAF).

One of the aims of the African Free Trade Area is to create a single market for goods and services, facilitated by the movement of people. It will also contribute to the movement of capital and people and facilitate investments.

After exchange and debate, the Council concluded on the need for further study of this issue by experts to assess the benefits that Burundi could derive from the ratification of the agreement. It will be brought back to the Council of Ministers within a period of three months.

2. Bill Amending Law Nr. 1/14 of 27 April 2015 on the General Regime of Public-Private Partnership Contracts Presented by the Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Development Cooperation.

Promoting economic development through the public-private partnership contract system is a cornerstone of public investment programs, and allows more efficient government operations. This system also allows better service delivery to the population.

In order to ensure a better functioning of this public-private partnership contract system, the Government of Burundi has put in place a legal framework that regulates the mechanisms for the conclusion and management of this type of contract, in this case the Law nr. 1/14 of 27 April 2015 on the general regime of public-private partnership contracts.

In assessing the implementation of this legal instrument, inconsistencies were found in the text, which poses difficulties in its application. This project proposes the amendment of certain provisions of the law on the general scheme of public-private partnership contracts to make its application effective. After exchange and debate, the project was adopted with some enrichment.

3. Consumer Protection Bill for Electronic Communication Products and Services in Burundi, presented by the Office of the Presidency of the Republic.

Until today, there is no specific and appropriate regulation on the protection of consumers of information and communication technologies. The existing provisions are scattered in various texts, but do not define clearly and precisely the fundamental rights and obligations of the consumers of information and communication technologies.

The protection of consumers of information and communication technologies is a factor in the development of these technologies but remains a challenge in Burundi.

Resolution 39/248 of 9 April 1985 of the United Nations and Resolution 64 of Hyderabad of 2010, to which Burundi has subscribed, recommend to States and Regulators of Telecommunications to transpose into national laws or codes of telecommunications and telecommunications technologies and all the fundamental rights granted to consumers. This bill is proposed in this context.

Following the analysis of this project, the Council made observations and recommendations to integrate it and a team was appointed to finalize it.

The project will be brought back to the Council of Ministers for reanalysis within one month.

4. Draft decree establishing an Operational Center for the Fight against Terrorism, presented by the Minister of Public Security and Disaster Management.

Terrorism is currently threatening the world and the African continent is not spared. Indeed, terrorist groups who have pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda or Daesh are killing innocent people. In our subregion, troop-contributing countries for AMISOM are under threat of attack by the terrorist group AL SHABAAB and some countries have already been hit by this movement on several occasions.

As far as our country is concerned, some Burundians have been recruited into the ranks of this movement and could be deployed to Burundi to commit terrorist acts.

Faced with this situation, Burundi must prepare by carrying out preventive actions and be able to handle cases of attack. The administration and the defense and security forces are taking steps in this direction but the efforts are dispersed, the results thus remaining at a minimum level due to the lack of coordination.

It is therefore urgent to plan all the efforts, to channel and coordinate them and this by a single body. The creation of an Operational Center for the Fight against Terrorism is proposed to respond to this concern.

This Center will bring together representatives of all the structures that have a role to play in the fight against terrorism, in this case the administration, the defense and security forces, the technical ministries and the civil society.

This Center will collaborate with the Regional Center for the Fight against Terrorism which has been set up by the East African Community.

After analysis, the project was adopted with some alterations.

5. Draft decree determining the ministerial departments devolved to the political capital and the economic capital, presented by the Minister of the Interior, Patriotic Training and Local Development.

Since the Independence of Burundi in 1962, the Capital has been set in Bujumbura and has always housed all the ministerial departments. During the successive regimes, some attempts to relocate some ministries did not succeed. Even with the construction of some administrative buildings in Gitega under the 2nd Republic, the political and socio-economic situation that followed did not favor the transfer of the targeted services that were to be installed in Gitega.
Today, with the firm political will to bring the population closer to public services for a balanced development of the entire national territory and an effective reduction of poverty, it is necessary to transfer certain structures and services from a few ministries in the political capital. It is proposed that this transfer be progressive.

The choice of the ministries to be transferred in the political capital is dictated by the political nature of the activities as well as the will to bring to the population the most requested services.

After exchange and debate, the project was adopted.

6. Draft Joint Ministerial Order revising Joint Ministerial Order Nr. 760/540/898/2015 of 13 July 2015 on the regime applicable to the mining and quarrying sector in Burundi, presented by the Minister of Hydraulics, Energy and Mining.

Law nr.1/12 of September 22nd, 2016 modifying articles 146 and 151 of the law nr. 1/21 of October 15th, 2015 bearing the Mining Code of Burundi established an annual fee called superficial for the holders of mining exploration permits. It has also reduced the ad valorem mining tax from 2% to 0.7% for precious metals buying and selling counters.

This project comes to implement these new provisions.

It proposes a base of the fee set in such a way as to prevent licensees from seeking to freeze the acreage granted to them, by increasing the amounts of the royalty each year to encourage them to work quickly and to give up the parts of the perimeters deemed less useful. The setting of this base refers to the practices of the countries of the sub-region.

After discussions and debate, the project was adopted with minor corrections.

7. Draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Government of the Republic of Burundi in the field of the environment, presented by the Minister of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock.

The Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Government of the Republic of Burundi are all aware of the need for scientific and technical cooperation for the protection of the environment and the conservation of natural resources.
In order to reduce environmental pollution and protect nature, in accordance with the principles of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit, the Parties undertake, through this Protocol, to develop and establish partnership and cooperation in the field of environmental protection including the transfer of know-how, technology and exchange of expertise.

The main areas of cooperation established by this partnership are :
• Soil quality management and land degradation ;
• Combating deforestation and dryland management
• Water quality management
• Biodiversity and protected area management
• The fight against climate change

Following the analysis of this draft Protocol, the Council returned it for a much more in-depth study taking into account the safeguarding of Burundi’s interests. It will be brought back to one of the upcoming sessions.

8. Briefing Note on the situation of SOSUMO, presented by the Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Development Cooperation.

The Société Sucrière du Moso (SOSUMO) is experiencing difficulties related mainly to the lack of means of transport of sugar cane and the malfunction of certain equipment of the plant which resulted in repetitive breakdowns especially towards the end of the year 2018 production campaign.

To succeed in the 2019 campaign, it is imperative to acquire new cane transport equipment by the end of May 2019 at the latest, as the campaign is expected to start in the first half of July 2019.

Given the urgency of acquiring all the material for the 2019 campaign, the Note requests that SOSUMO be granted special authorization to place orders directly with manufacturers without going through lengthy public procurement procedures, while ensuring that the authorized services are involved in order to avoid possible abuses.

In addition, the law nr. 1/24 of December 4, 2018 has been implemented, changing the management and capital structure of SOSUMO. But to date, there is still no implementing text of this law. Management bodies may find themselves in a phase that could jeopardize possible management team initiatives for better indicators of good management and performance.

While supporting the decision to change SOSUMO’s mode of management and capital structure, the Note seeks the suspension of the application of the related law to enable SOSUMO to continue its activities as usual.

At the end of the debate on the Note, the Board reiterated the recommendation to first assess the real value of SOSUMO’s assets in order to allow the effective opening of the shareholding to the private sector.
A team was appointed to analyze the best decision to take so that the activities of the SOSUMO are not interrupted but also and especially for a better management of this company.

9. Any Other Business

• The Minister of Finance, Budget for Economic Development Cooperation informed the Council about the dissemination of the National Development Plan in progress.

• The Minister of the Interior, Patriotic Training and Local Development spoke about his meeting with foreign NGOs. During this meeting, he informed them that authorizations for experts who come to monitor and evaluate projects submitted to the Ministry of the Interior will be granted after prior written approval from the technical ministries in which these NGOs operate.

• The Minister of Public Security and Disaster Management requested that the Government be informed in advance about the Protocols, Treaties, Covenants, Conventions or Agreements to which Burundi wishes to adhere.

• The Minister to the Presidency in charge of Good Governance asked that the new programs that are being formulated be submitted to the Council of Ministers to ensure that they are in harmony with the National Development Plan.

Done at Gitega, March 21, 2019

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

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Ijambo rya Nyenicubahiro Umukuru w’Igihugu Petero Nkurunziza Uburundi buhimbaza umunsi w’amasezerano y’ubumwe bw’abarundi 2019.

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