Corruption watchdog calls on President to cancel request of US$ 32.6 million loan

In a letter sent to Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza on 9 August, the chairman of the Observatory for the Fight against Corruption and Embezzlement (OLUCOME) expressed his concerns about a credit equivalent to US% 32.6 million to be granted by the Chinese Bank ‘Exim Bank’. This appropriation will be used to complete the digital television migration project.

Gabriel Rufyiri,OLUCOME Chairman and Spearhead of  the campaign against high cost of living in Burundi.

Gabriel Rufyiri: “OLUCOME regrets that this loan applied for on behalf of an almost private and foreign company will be paid by Burundian citizens”

On 3 August, the National Assembly adopted a bill on the signing of a US $ 32.6 million loan to be granted to the Republic of Burundi by the Chinese Bank “Exim Bank”. This money will be used to finalize digital broadcasting system process that has been disrupted for 2 years, says the Minister of Communication, Nestor Bankumukunzi.

This credit granted by the China Import and Export Bank will be transferred to Burundi Digital Broadcasting Corporation (STNB) with the participation of 60% of the Chinese company Star Times media and 40% of Burundi National Radio and Television (RTNB).

Bankumukunzi said this debt will be paid back for a period of 25 years, at the interest rate of 2% with 5 years’ grace.

STNB did not have a budget to carry out this project the reason why Star Times media proposed to the government to initiate it with its own money. But it required the government to pay the money back after establishing network infrastructure,” said Bankumukunzi.

For the Minister of Communication, with the first quarter, Star Times media suspended the remaining work on the RTNB modernization project. The Director General of RTNB, Salvator Nizigiyimana says network infrastructures have been established throughout the country’s territory.

For Gabriel Rufyiri, president of OLUCOME, the Chinese company Star Times, which owns 60% of the shares of the STNB capital, will be more influential on the state company RTNB.

For him, the government cannot go into debt to the profit f a private company of which the Government is not a main shareholder.

Rufyiri accuses Burundi Government of violating standards of transparency laid down by the international texts ratified by Burundi and more particularly the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, the African Charter on Governance and Democracy, and the Pact on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Rufyiri regrets that this loan applied for on behalf of a company which is almost private and foreign, will be paid by Burundian citizens.

“Instead of requesting loan on behalf of the Burundian population as it has been done, the government should call for an open international competitive bid for the contract whereby RTNB should have significant shares and the company that hit the market would have a credit, “said Rufyiri.