Parliament Asked to Support Employment Programmes

The Ministry of Public Service and Labour (MIFOTRA) has asked the parliamentary Standing Committee on Budget and National Patrimony to advocate for the promotion of National Employment Programme (NEP) in other public institutions.

The drive, according to officials, will ensure the Government projection to create 200,000 off-farm jobs annually is attained.

The call was made during a meeting between MIFOTRA senior officials and members of the committee to discuss the ministry's Budgetary Allocation in the upcoming fiscal year and the performance of the current budget.

The ministry seeks at least Rwf2 billion to finance it's recurrent and development activities for the next fiscal year from Rwf1.7 billion allocated for the current fiscal year, which ends next month.

The current progress on the targeted annual job creation according to officials stands at 45 percent as the focus turns to the promotion of off-farm jobs in rural areas whose labour force remain larger than people living in urban areas.

In line with the current development blueprint, the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II), NEP was created to enhance impact of employment interventions, avoid duplications in planning; equip the workforce with employability skills seeking to generate more output.

However, while addressing legislators on the committee, Judith Uwizeye, the minister for labour and public service, said NEP decried institutions that allocate less funds or fail to prioritise that programme.

"NEP objectives are clear and promising, it is surprising that funding the programme remains one of the challenges, simply because when budgeting partner institutions tend to leave it out, there is need for advocacy from Parliament to push the respective institutions to prioritise all components of the programme," she said.

Uwizeye said, Rwanda's labour force has reached 6.4 million people out of which 89 per cent are from rural areas.

Reacting to the programme and the Budget in general, lawmakers urged the ministry to improve support to informal sector specifically in the agriculture sector, which has more underpaid workers and who according to statistics 41 per cent of them work relatively below 30 hours a week.

"Through NEP, the ministry should be able to show us how it supports the informal sector; where agriculture should be modernised to support processing," said Constance Mukayuhi Rwaka, the committee chairperson.

Statistics indicate that unemployment rate among active youth (aged 16-30) stands at 3.3 per cent at the national level and 12 per cent in urban areas, while it stands at 13.5 per cent among university graduates.