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Rwanda ministers told to forgo month’s pay for coronavirus

KigaliRwanda | AFP | Politicians and top civil servants in Rwanda will have their salaries this month redirected to welfare programmes to help the poor cope with the economic impact of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said the salary sacrifice would show “solidarity” with the people, who have been under a tough lockdown and strict curbs on freedoms to contain the spread of the virus.

“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),” he said in a statement Sunday.

“Together, we shall rein in this epidemic.”

The government has been providing basic foodstuffs to around 20,000 of Kigali’s most vulnerable citizens but the need is great in a country of 12 million where one-third live in poverty.

It was not immediately clear how much Rwanda will collect through the forfeited monthly salaries of its top officials.

Rwanda imposed a strict shutdown in response to the coronavirus outbreak, closing all but the most essential shops, suspending public transport and banning all “unnecessary movements” outside the home on March 21.

The country’s poor have been especially hard hit as food prices have risen and unemployment soared following the measures, which have been extended until April 19.

The IMF last week authorised a loan to Rwanda of nearly $110 million (101 million euros) to address the pandemic’s economic fallout.

Rwanda had 104 known cases of the disease as of 1030 GMT Monday, among the highest recorded numbers in East Africa.

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