15 February 2012

Rwanda: PAC Gets Tough On Public Spending

Photo: New Times
Juvenal Nkusi, president of PAC (R) chatting with Evariste Kalisa, Deputy speaker of parliament, before the beginning of the session.

The Public Accounts Committee PAC) Tuesday finally tabled its report on the loss of Rwf 9.7 billion as highlighted in the 2009/10 Auditor General's report.

PAC Chairperson, Juvenal Nkusi, told the House that lack of timely reporting on the status of public funds, public institutions' hidden bank accounts, waste, expenses that lack supporting documents, illegal payments, mismanagement of public property, and others were some of the reasons that resulted in the loss.

"The audit apparently was done in a transparent manner and this Auditor General's report is reliable," he said.

The report is as a result of a series of meetings with various government technocrats by the newly created committee.

"During our sessions, officials told us that they had the necessary training and academic qualifications. The laws and procedures, as well, are clear. Why then should they say they lack capacity when it comes to managing things?" Nkusi wondered.

The committee which last year grilled officials from the 104 of the 315 audited institutions, agencies, projects and government departments that are recipients of the national budget, recommended that the AG be given authority to audit all the others in its subsequent audits.

PAC member, Jeane d'Arc Uwimanimpaye, read the recommendations that tasked the Minister of Finance to present to the House, within 90 days, measures to be taken against officials who mismanaged public funds.

"The Rwanda Public Procurement Authority should file a report to the Ministry of Finance on the errors that were noted in the Auditor General's report and on the tendering processes. They should also make recommendations on what should be done to the wrongdoers," Uwimanimpaye read from PAC's list of recommendations.

Eliminating tax collection mistakes, as observed in local administrative levels, will also help curb theft of government funds. The committee recommended that more efforts be put in the management of books of account.

A severe warning also went to employees who cause losses of state finances due to negligence by not fulfilling their responsibilities in paying taxes and not paying health insurance monies.

Looking into causes of the heavy turnover of staff in public institutions, and the related problems owing to mismanagement of funds, is another issue that PAC insists should be dealt with.

In other special recommendations, the committee suggested that prosecutors locate all people implicated in the loss of public funds and ensure funds are recovered.

Pursuing public servants implicated in the wastage and mismanagement of public funds, and denying them a chance of employment in other government agencies was another recommendation.

It also suggests that an assessment on the training and capacities of public workers be conducted to verify the relevance of certain training programmes that draw public funds, and putting an end to the usually unexpected and speedy directives which result into the breaking of procurement procedures.

The committee also proposed that the House follow up on several issues that were not addressed when government departments were being quizzed. They include the Ministry of Health, Rusizi District and others, which are owed huge amounts of money by other institutions.

Parliament was also requested to follow up on institutions such as FARG, Kicukiro, Nyarugenge, and Musanze districts, which owe huge sums of money to other entities.

After the presentation of the report, some MPs said it had not been exhaustive enough, saying they expected the document to contain names of concerned individuals and institutions.

The session will resume today morning as queries raised could not been answered due to time limitation.

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