The business deliberative forum aims at debating the programs/policies that were put in place by the Government of Rwanda to support businesses during COVID-19. These policies/programs include the Economic Recovery Fund (ERF),
the Manufacture and Build to Recover Program (MBRP), the Deadline Extension (Income tax), Bank loan restructuring, a Waiver or Deferral of Taxes and Free mobile money transfer, among others. This forum helped the researchers to collect business owners’ feedback that is useful in the process of improving existing policies and informing those that will be made for business development and economic recovery.
In order to collect this feedback, the business deliberative forum brought together business owners, especially Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) from
industry, agriculture and services, to discuss the existing recovery policies. The findings from the forum revealed that the majority of businesses were not aware of the economic recovery policies/programs and only a few of those who were aware benefitted from these policies/programs. This is mainly due to the eligibility criteria set such as having regular and updated bookkeeping and accounting, not having any other loan among others, reported corruption in bank loan restructuring, and conflicts of interest regarding the ERF because it is implemented by commercial banks
that may also have vested interest in it. Based on the findings from the business deliberative forum, the following key recommendations were formulated : Create more awareness of government’s economic recovery programs/policies ; improve services regarding monitoring and evaluation of newly implemented programs and Government through Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and reduce tax penalties and set monthly penalties.
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