Rwanda top officials skip April salaries for Covid-19 fight

Tuesday April 7 2020

Rwandan legislators during the swearing-in of

Rwandan legislators during the swearing-in of new cabinet members and MPs on February 28, 2020 in Kigali. PHOTO | URUGWIRO 

MOSES K. GAHIGI
By MOSES K. GAHIGI
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IVAN R. MUGISHA
By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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Top Rwandan officials will not get their April salaries in one of the drastic measures the government has enforced to raise funds for social protection programmes aimed for the most vulnerable in the community.

Rwanda has implemented a strict lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus, which has forced many low-income earners and unemployed people to struggle to get food and other basic necessities.

The country has confirmed 104 coronavirus infections to date, the second-highest number in the region after Kenya which has 158 cases. Four patients were released from hospital on Sunday.

“In the context of the fight against Covid-19, and in solidarity with the most affected Rwandans, the Government of Rwanda has decided, over and above ongoing social protection initiatives, that all Cabinet Members, Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Public Institutions and other senior officials shall forfeit one month's salary (April),” Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said in a statement released on Sunday.

Those who will not get their April pay are 34 Cabinet members, 26 senators, 106 members of Parliament, and hundreds of heads of public institutions – who earn an average of Rwf2 million (about $2140) per month.

This is likely to generate close to $1 million to be used to combat effects of coronavirus on the vulnerable.

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Rwanda’s ministry of Local Government is already distributing food to households and individuals most hit by the Covid19 lockdown.

The number of those needing government assistance has been rising since the food distribution began as many have lost jobs or been unable to make a living due to the lockdown.

In Kigali alone, the number of households eligible for food distribution grew from 26,572 to more than 50,000 in a matter of days, with more people expected to be identified.

The government is providing relief to households where individuals depended on daily income such as casual jobs workers and those whose work was suspended over the lockdown measures.

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