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MEDIA RELEASE CONSECUTIVE TO THE CABINET MEETING HELD ON WEDNESDAY 22 MAY 2019

A Cabinet Meeting was held on Wednesday 22 May 2019 under the chairmanship of His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi. The following items were analyzed :

1. National Decentralization Policy 2018-2027, presented by the Minister of Decentralization and Institutional Reform.

Decentralization aims at the active participation of the whole population in the definition and the implementation of the economic and social development policies of their administrative entity. The National Decentralization Policy was adopted in 2009 and covered a period of ten years. It was articulated around the following axes :

• Strengthening the legal framework

• Strengthening the institutional framework

• Capacity building and improvement of local government services

• Fiscal and financial decentralization

The evaluation of this first phase of the Decentralization Policy has shown that its implementation has made significant progress on these various axes even if challenges to be rectified have been noted.
It is on the basis of the progress made and the challenges identified that this national policy of decentralization, second generation (2018-2027) was elaborated. This policy is also inspired by the National Development Plan.

It should be stressed that this policy had been analyzed by the Council of Ministers and returned for finalization.
After an exchange and debate on the reworked document, the Council found it in conformity with the recommendations and adopted it.

2. Electronic Transactions Bill, presented by the Minister of Youth, Posts and Information Technologies.

The importance of information and communication technologies is today undeniable in all sectors of national life. To this end, Burundi must improve its economic growth by allowing the development of activities in a secure legal framework using information and communication technologies.

However, the current legal and regulatory framework does not provide economic actors and citizens with the legal environment necessary to create a climate of trust without which any electronic transaction cannot develop.
This project provides the framework within which the information society can legally develop in Burundi. It lays down the essential principles applicable to electronic communications by dealing with aspects relating to the recognition of the legal value of data messages, the terms of electronic contract formation, consumer protection in electronic matters, electronic transactions, cybercrime, etc.

This project had been analyzed by the Council of Ministers and returned with guidance in relation to a better structuring of the document. At the end of the analysis of the reworked document, the Council found it in conformity with the guidelines which had been given and adopted it.

3. Dossier on the establishment of a Bank for Youth in Burundi presented by the Minister of Youth, Posts and Information Technologies.

Burundian youth faces many challenges. These are related to the demographic increase, the underemployment, and the problem of access to the existing financial system. The project for the creation of a Youth Bank has its roots in the Government’s desire to support the socio-economic projects of youth and provides a lasting solution to the many problems young people face. The dossier submitted proposes that the Bank be made up of a 15% State capital and another 85% Communes Capital. The capital is estimated at 10 billion Burundi francs.

After analysis, the Council of Ministers adopted it.

4. Bill on the ratification by the Republic of Burundi of the Agreement Establishing the Tripartite Free Trade Area between the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Community for Southern African Development (SADC), signed at SHARM EL SHEIK in the Arab Republic of Egypt on June 10, 2015.

5. Bill on the ratification by the Republic of Burundi of the amended Article 24 (2) of the Protocol Establishing the Customs Union of the East African Community.

6. Bill on the ratification by the Republic of Burundi of the Protocol Amending the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization.

7. Bill on the ratification by the Republic of Burundi of the Protocol Amending the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
These four projects were all presented by the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism.

Regarding the agreement establishing the Tripartite Free Trade Area, it should be noted that in the context of the regionalization of trade, the member countries of the East African Community have taken the option of grouping themselves into a regional economic unit sharing thus a common destiny in their efforts to ensure economic growth and achieve sustainable development.

Under the 1991 Abuja Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community, regional economic communities are the cornerstone and pillars for the construction of Africa.

The creation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area between the Eastern and Southern African Common Market (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) responds to this logic.
This agreement is based on three pillars namely :

1. Market integration

2. Industrial development

3. Infrastructure development

Burundi has an interest in ratifying this agreement, in particular to have access to the market of the twenty-six countries that make up the three communities.
With regard to the Protocol Establishing the Customs Union of the East African Community, it is worth noting that at the Summit of Heads of State of the East African Community held on April 11, 2002, the decision was taken that admission to the East African Community is based on membership of the Customs Union of the East African Community, considered as the point of entry into that Community.

Burundi had to go through this way to enter this Community. Paragraph 2 of Article 24 of the Protocol Establishing the Customs Union of the East African Community as formulated is closed and does not permit a new country acceding to the Community outside the three founding countries (Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania) to have the opportunity to be represented on the Trade Remedies Committee.

The purpose of the amendment to Article 24 (2) is to adjust it to allow new member countries, including Burundi, to be represented in this body.
In connection with the Protocol Amending the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, it should be recalled that the World Trade Organization was established by the agreement concluded in Marrakesh on April 15, 1994. The latter serves as a common institutional framework for the conduct of commercial relations between all its members.

Trade Facilitation was added to the work program of the World Trade Organization in 1996. It was in July 2004 that members of the World Trade Organization formally agreed to launch the related negotiations and Burundi took part. The Trade Facilitation Agreement was adopted in 2013 and officially opened for acceptance on November 27, 2014.

This amendment inserts into the annexes of the Marrakesh Agreement, the Protocol on Trade Facilitation which aims to stimulate world trade by accelerating the movement, release and clearance of goods.
Burundi, a landlocked and developing country, has an interest in ratifying this Protocol.

Finally, with regard to the Protocol Amending the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, it should be noted that the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights is included in annexes to the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization.

This Agreement established a framework for the protection of intellectual property. Nonetheless, the exceptions provided for in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights have proved insufficient to ensure effective access for developing countries to medicines that are essential for meeting the public health needs of developing countries like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Countries were allowed to manufacture them for internal use without export authorization.

The purpose of this amendment is to create a legal route to facilitate access to medicines at affordable prices for countries with limited or no drug production capacity.

After discussion and debate on these four draft ratifications, the Council adopted them all for finalization by a team designated for this purpose.

8. Draft Ministerial Order setting out the conditions, modalities and procedure for approval or suspension of a non-governmental organization in the Republic of Burundi.

9. Draft Ministerial Order amending Ministerial Ordinance No. 204.04 / 761/99 of 1 December 1999 on conditions, procedures for approval and procedures for terminating the activities of a member of the expatriate staff working in NGOs and foreign non-profit associations in Burundi.

Both projects were presented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. They constitute law enforcement documents on the general framework for cooperation between the Republic of Burundi and foreign non-governmental organizations.

The first text indicates how a foreign organization wanting to deploy in Burundi is approved and how it is suspended, while the second specifies how expatriates working in an NGO or a non-profit organization are allowed to work in Burundi and how their work is terminated.

After discussion and exchange, both projects were approved by a team appointed for this purpose.

10. Draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Burundi and BELMONT TECHNOLOGIES SDN BHG, presented by the Minister of Public Security and Disaster Management.

The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding is to implement an electronic visa system and advance traveler information. The company BELMONT TECHNOLOGIES SDN BHG has indeed expressed its interest and willingness to provide the Government of Burundi this system and the interconnection between the Office of the General Commissioner of Migration and the main border posts in the country.

The system has many advantages, especially at the security level because the services concerned will have sufficient information on people who want to enter Burundi, and tourism, because even nationals of countries where Burundi has no diplomatic representation will have facilities to obtain their entry visa to Burundi.

At the end of the exchanges, the project was adopted with some alterations. The project will be finalized by a team designated for this purpose.

11. Draft Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the KIRA BURUNDI Organization for a donation of books for the extension of the program of implementation and equipment of the Center for Reading and Cultural Animation (CLAC), presented by the Minister of Culture and Sports.

The Burundian Center for Reading and Cultural Animation was created in 2007 in order to provide the country with a national structure responsible for the development of public reading. Today, it plans and coordinates the activities of Reading and Cultural Animation Centers located in all the Provinces of the country. The objective of the Government is to establish these Centers in all the Communes of Burundi.

In the extension of this program across all Communes, it was resorted to the support of a partner namely the KIRA BURUNDI Association based in Canada.
The conclusion of such a partnership, object of this Memorandum, will allow having each year a batch of 40.000 books over a period of three years from this association, to equip the Centers of Reading and Cultural Animation of all the Communes of the country.

After an exchange and debate on this project, the Council noted that the project required more inputs and returned it.

12. Note on the Socio-Professional Reintegration Program for Former Combatants for Integral Development, presented by the Minister of National Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Since 1993, Burundi has experienced a long civil war that has plunged many families and left others in the final settlement. Today, the Burundian population is coming out of this crisis little by little. The Arusha Agreement and the various other agreements that the government has had to sign with the various armed movements mention political solutions and economic solutions. But the implementation of economic solutions has always encountered barriers. The DDRR program did not produce the expected results, henceforth leaving Burundi with a lot of people in need, which is often a source of insecurity. Among those people are demobilized, retired and deserters.

To these are added unemployed graduates and out of school. All of these categories can behave negatively, whereas if properly channeled, they would contribute effectively to Peacebuilding. This Note concerns the setting up of a project in connection with the organization of a series of activities in the direction of socio-professional reintegration of the categories mentioned above by the access to credits while involving them in the Peacebuilding.

After discussion and debate, the Council noted that the file required much more thought. A team was appointed to work on it and it will be brought back to the Council of Ministers within a month.

13. Any Other Business

  • The Minister of Public Security and Disaster Management reminded that state structures introduce visa applications only for people from countries where Burundi has no diplomatic representation. Similarly, courtesy visas are only required for nationals of countries with which Burundi has signed related conventions.
  • The Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke about the mission of a SADC delegation in Burundi.
  • The Minister in the Presidency in charge of East African Community Affairs spoke about the exchanges she had with the Forum of Civil Society Associations of the East African Community which continue to invite to its meetings the associations that have been canceled in Burundi. It was finally requested that the member countries of the Community transmit to this Forum the lists of civil society associations that have been deregistered in their country for appropriate action.
  • The Minister of Youth, Posts and Information Technologies spoke about an international youth meeting that had been organized by Rotaract and which was canceled because it refused to collaborate with the Ministry in charge of the youth.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Development Cooperation spoke of a meeting organized for the representatives of the registered political parties in the framework of the dissemination of the National Development Plan.

Done at Bujumbura, May 22, 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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