The New Times (Kigali)

4 September 2012

Rwanda: Deal to Help Curb Procurement Irregularities

The Ministry of Local Government and Transparency Rwanda have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to rein in mismanagement of public funds in local governments.

The MoU on integrity pacts was signed yesterday in Kigali with four pilot districts of Musanze, Huye, Kayonza and Rubavu.

The aim is to curtail graft in awarding of infrastructure-based tenders. According to the ministry, 60 per cent of the local government budget was set aside for infrastructure projects.

Integrity pacts are agreements signed between the government or a district and all public sector bidders. The pacts engage all parties to abstain from corruption, disclose information and be transparent. Its implementation is monitored by an independent third party.

According to figures from the Office of the Auditor General, between 2005 and 2010, tenders worth over $17 million were awarded without supporting evidence while others worth $14 million were awarded without approval.

The Deputy CEO of Rwanda Governance Board, Amb. Fatuma Ndagiza, who represented the minister, said although Rwanda had perennially registered low corruption levels, there were still cases of corruption in public procurement, especially at the local government level.

"We are doing all we can to improve procurement and service delivery, the funds provided by both the government and development partners ought to be put to proper use," Ndagiza explained.

She added that with the support from development partners and NGOs, the fight against graft would prevail. She said the integrity pacts would be replicated in other districts after implementation in the four pilot districts.

The Ministry of Local Government has a budget allocation worth Rwf 329 billion last year 2011-2012 which rose to Rwf 349 billion in the current financial year.

The chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda, Immaculee Ingabire, called on all sectors to ensure that procurement procedures are free of corruption.

"A public contract should be awarded to the best bidder and not to the one who pays the biggest bribe," Ingabire noted.

She added that procurement that is free of corruption denotes better roads, water supply schools and public services.

"Public procurement is crucial for the economic and social development of our country. That is why we cannot allow corruption to affect it," she stated.

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