UK Aid to Rwanda: Government Response to the Committee's Seventh Report of Session 2012-13 - International Development Committee Contents


On 30 November 2012, the Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, issued a Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) to Parliament announcing the decision that the UK would not be releasing £21million in general budget support to the Government of Rwanda. The payment was scheduled for December and would have been the second (of two) general budget support payments for the financial year 2012-13. The first payment was made in September, of which half was paid as general budget support and half reprogrammed into specific sectors.

In making this decision, the Secretary of State for International Development conducted an in-depth analysis of the available evidence about Rwanda's commitment to and performance against all four of the UK Government's Partnership Principles , including the three conditions set out by the Prime Minister that formed part of the overall assessment of commitment to those Partnership Principles.

This analysis included the UN Group of Experts' Report, published in November. It also included a wide range of evidence from and dialogue with other Governmental Departments, other donors, the NGO community, including human rights organisations, and the Government of Rwanda. The IDC inquiry provided a further opportunity to reflect on the available evidence and consider the best way forward.

On the 23 November, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development released a joint statement stating that they found the evidence concerning Rwanda's involvement in eastern DRC appeared to be 'credible and compelling.' This clearly constituted a breach of the Partnership Principles, which underpins general budget support, and therefore resulted in the decision not to release the second general budget support payment in December.

As the International Development Secretary set out in her WMS of 30 November, it is hoped that the UK's strong development relationship with Rwanda will continue. As a post-conflict nation recovering from a devastating genocide, the development results Rwanda has achieved over the last 18 years have been remarkable. The Department is already exploring options for how the UK can continue to help protect development and poor people in Rwanda at this time. In addition, the UK will continue to work with the Government of Rwanda to secure a peaceful resolution to the situation in eastern DRC.

As set out in the WMS, 'meeting the partnership principles alongside tangible improvements on the ground, and continued progress made by the Government of Rwanda in supporting peace, are key factors in any decision on general budget support.'

Response to the conclusions and recommendations

Recommendation 1

None of the above appears to back up the claims that the former Secretary of State was a "rogue" minister acting without the knowledge of the Foreign Secretary or the approval of the Prime Minister. However, the former Secretary of State told us he judged that Rwanda had moved significantly against two of the three conditions set down by the Prime Minister. We are not privy to all the information and advice upon which he made this judgement. However, on the basis of the other evidence which we received, we do not understand how he concluded that Rwandan support for M23 had ceased. (Paragraph 22) (Paragraph 1, Page 14)

Noted. DFID's Permanent Secretary set out in his evidence to the Public Accounts Committee he had no regularity or propriety concerns. He was satisfied that DFID officials provided balanced, honest, objective advice.

Recommendation 2

Rwanda is making significant progress towards the Millennium Development Goal targets and is lifting people out of poverty. We have seen for ourselves the tremendous improvements that Rwanda has made since 1994 and consider that general budget support has proved effective in reducing poverty in Rwanda. For this reason, we think that UK aid should continue to benefit the people of Rwanda. However questions arise about the best method to deliver it. (Paragraph 26)

Agreed. The Secretary of State, Justine Greening has instructed the Department to look at options around how the UK can protect the poorest groups in Rwanda, with the aim of continuing our support to its impressive poverty reduction efforts. We have since the decision released £3m for a social cash transfers programme which will be directly targeted at the poorest. Other re-programming interventions are being designed.

Recommendation 3

We do not believe that Rwanda has met the Prime Minister's conditions and we recommend that the second tranche of general budget support should not be provided in December. (Paragraph 27)

Agreed. As stated in the Secretary of State for International Development's Written Ministerial Statement of 30 November, the UK did not release the second tranche of general budget support to the Government of Rwanda, scheduled for December, due to our assessment of a breach of the partnership principles.

Recommendation 4

In the light of the Memorandum of Understanding, and the partnership principles contained therein, the conditions the Prime Minister set for the resumption of general budget support—the Rwanda should 1) engage constructively in the peace process, 2) publicly condemn the M23 group and 3) there should be a continuing ceasefire in the Kivus and practical support to the M23 should end—are not unreasonable. We recommend that before further general budget support is disbursed the Government must ensure Rwanda unambiguously complies with all three of the Prime Minister's conditions—general budget support should not be provided if Rwanda is providing support to the M23 rebels. Until these conditions are met in full, DFID should deliver its aid through alternative channels. (Paragraph 28)

Agreed. Having decided not to release the second General Budget support payment in December, the Secretary of State for International Development will return to the issue of general budget support to Rwanda later this year, and consider progress against the partnership principles and the Prime Minister's three conditions.

Recommendation 5

We also recommend that DFID consult formally, at ministerial level, with other donors before making a decision to reinstate general budget support. While we understand that the UK Government will make its own decision, it is important that there is some donor coordination of response, even if those responses differ. Donors will need to consider the impact of their individual and cumulative decisions on different sectors. DFID has committed to work with other development partners to improve alignment and harmonisation of development assistance in the Memorandum of Understanding and we expect to see evidence of this. (Paragraph 29)

Agreed. DFID will continue to co-ordinate closely with other donors at Ministerial and at official level, in country and in capitals, on aid decisions and aid effectiveness in Rwanda. DFID will continue to work with other donors to assess the individual and cumulative impact of these decisions.

Recommendation 6

Continuing unrest in the region threatens to undermine DFID's large aid programmes there. The UK Government should give a higher priority to the regional peace process. (Paragraph 30)

Agreed. The UK supports a long term, regional solution to the crisis in Eastern DRC. It will continue to engage positively with those involved in order to help reach a sustainable peace. FCO Minister Mark Simmonds visited the region at the end of November, to ensure that this message was embedded with key players. He emphasised the need for all involved parties to be represented in peace negotiations, including Rwanda. The UK has continued to provide strong support to those working on a regional solution, not only in Kampala, but also through its representatives at the UN in New York, AU in Addis Ababa, and EU in Brussels. Officials in FCO and DFID are also developing, at Ministerial request, options for programming in Eastern DRC to help with state building process.

Recommendation 7

We welcome the Secretary of State's plan to have a more structured dialogue with international and local human rights organisations with experience and knowledge of the situation in Rwanda, and to engage formally with the FCO's human rights process. We look forward to receiving regular updates from the Secretary of State on these issues. DFID is the second largest bilateral donor in Rwanda and, consistent with the Memorandum of Understanding, it can, and should, play a leadership role in encouraging human rights reforms. (Paragraph 33)

Agreed. DFID and FCO have been working closely to ensure consistency in our human rights reporting. The Secretary of State and other DFID Ministers and officials would be glad to provide the Committee with updates on DFID's engagement with human rights organisations to promote respect for and fulfilment of human rights, in Rwanda.

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Prepared 6 February 2013