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April 27, 2008

Rwandan agric. officials accused of exporting subsidised fertilizer

Rwanda is investigating its Ministry Agriculture to find out whether some of its officers are involved in selling government subsidized fertilizers outside the country, Alphonse Hitiyaremye, the deputy Prosecutor General has said.

The investigation was triggered by the arrest of Straton Ndamage, a Kigali businessman, on the Rwanda- Burundi border in Bugesera with 50 tonnes of DAP fertilizer in two of his trucks.

"The investigations are still going on. After arresting Ndamage, we discovered that some other businessmen had also purchased fertilizers from the same ministry and sold them outside the country, Hitiyaremye said.

"Fertilizers were imported by the government tax free to help farmers improve agricultural output in different areas of the country. It would therefore be unfair to sell the tax-exempted fertilizers to another country that is not covered by the exemption," the official added.

He revealed that statements recorded from employees of the ministry indicate that some anomalies occurred in the purchase of the fertilizers.

Straton Ndamage claims that the prosecution froze his assets in February this year, impounded his two trailers, cell phone, and confiscated 50 tonnes of the fertilizers he had purchased from the ministry. "Thank God they have now given me access to my account. I simply didn't have any business and life become meaningless to me," Ndamage lamented.

Ndamage had been accused of attempting to sell the subsidized fertilizers that he had fraudulently indicated he was taking to Nyaruguru District but instead was arrested taking it to Burundi. However the court ruled in favour of the accused.

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