Kagame Cooks Statistics But At Least Central Bank’s Data Is Closely Surveilled By IMF

By David Himbara

Kagame, the chief cook of statistics

The government of General Paul Kagame cooks statistics. Kagame uses manipulated statistics to boast that he transformed Rwanda from a peasant economy into the Singapore of Africa. This, of course, is nonsense. Avoid especially any statistics and figures of government bodies such as Rwanda Development Board (RDB). Question any data produced by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR). In Rwanda, more credible statistics come of the National Bank of Rwanda (NBR). And there is a reason why Kagame is unable to freely cook NBR’s statistics. NBR operates under close surveillance by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which monitors central banks. As a recipient of the IMF’s Standby Credit Facilities, Rwanda adheres to close surveillance of all its socioeconomic sectors and associated data. In this case, Rwanda is on a tight leash, in other words.

How IMF’s surveillance in Rwanda works

In its Letter of Intent to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) dated December 20, 2019, the Kagame government indicated the type of data and the frequency of how Rwanda must report its statistics to the IMF. Here the types and frequency of Rwanda’s data submission to the IMF:

  1. Exchange Rates – Daily Report to the IMF;
  2. International Reserve Assets and Reserve Liabilities of the Monetary Authorities – Weekly Report to the IMF;
  3. Central Bank Balance Sheet – Weekly Report to the IMF;
  4. Interest Rates – Daily Report to the IMF;
  5. Volume of transactions in the interbank money market, repo operations, and foreign exchange markets, sales of foreign currencies by the National Bank of Rwanda (NBR) to commercial banks and other foreign currency interventions by NBR – Daily Report to the IMF;
  6. Composite Index of Economic Activity (CIEA) and sub-components compiled by the NBR – Monthly Report to the IMF;
  7. Revenue, Expenditure, Balance and Composition of Financing Budgetary of Central Government – Quarterly report to the IMF;
  8. Comprehensive list of tax and other revenues – Monthly report to the IMF;
  9. Stocks of public sector and public-Guaranteed Debt as compiled by MINECOFIN and NBR – Quarterly report to the IMF;
  10. Exports and Imports of Goods and subcomponents – Monthly report to the IMF.

In these sectors, at least, someone else keeps an eye on Kagame. The IMF also has staff on the ground led by a resident representative. The IMF surveillance in Rwanda may not be foolproof – but the room for freely cooking statistics is limited.