The institution’s management appeared before the committee as the hearing from government institutions to provide explanations on mistakes pointed out by the Auditor General (AG)’s report in the fiscal year 2020/2021 began on Monday 5th September 2022.
The pieces of land in question were bought at Rwf137 billion. The AG report indicates that the land has been idle for ten years where RSSB spent more Rwf394 million on it.
The expenses include taxes and the cost associated with its management.
The Director General of RSSB, Regis Rugemanshuro has revealed that the institution bought the pieces of land for future use because the value of land increases overtime.
“The pieces of land were bought for future projects. If the land is not bought early for future use, planning to build houses in the next 15 years would not be lucrative enough. However, buying the land earlier helps to mitigate risks of high cost it in the future,” he said.
The Chairperson of PAC, Valens Muhakwa questioned RSSB’s decision to buy plots of land without a clear plan for development.
“The institution should be far-sighted. You have the land but don’t know how it will be exploited. This is the problem being discussed. This is done by citizens trying to secure the future. Should RSSB be in a land banking race with citizens?”
Reacting to the concern, Rugemanshuro said: “What you say is true. There was no plan for all bought plots of land to determine whether they will be developed for business or something else. However, considering designed master plans, RSSB bought them in strategic locations ideal for different activities. In some instances, we handed over some plots of land unsuitable for our study plan.”
Parliamentarian (MP), Jean René Niyorurema also wondered how the institution can buy the land to be kept for 10 years yet the government informs the general public that those whose land remains undeveloped will be confiscated as per legal provisions.
“Keeping the land is not the sole plan. We also work with available investors willing to develop the land. Besides, we buy new land for clear reasons,” replied Rugemanshuro.
MP Jean Claude Ntezimana maintained that buying land before prices go high is not a bad idea but insisted that RSSB has what it takes to obtain information regarding the master plan for a particular area.
“For instance, you push forward public interest reasons while expropriating residents in Kiyovu cy’Abakene. It becomes meaningless for a citizen who passes by the area and realizes that the land is still idle. You have to buy pieces of land knowing better that you won’t face losses,” he said.
MP Christine Bakundufite said that RSSB was wrong to consider the Rwf137 billion worth land project because ‘it would have generated profits from other businesses’.
“This report shows that you have spent Rwf394 million. The longer it takes to develop the land, the more you increase losses,” she said.
PAC also indicated that the land owned by RSSB across the country is exploited at 3%.
RSSB explained that efforts are underway to set out a clear plan with which specific projects suitable for these pieces of land and their implementation timeframe will be determined not later than 2023 to develop the land in line with national development blueprint.
The institution also revealed that its land located in areas where the projects cannot materialize will be sold.