8 November 2012

Rwanda: District Accountants Decry Heavy Workload

Local government officials at the district level have decried the heavy workload among district accountants.

Nyamagabe is among many districts in which cashbook balances were not properly reconciled to the bank statements

According to the officials, each district has only one accountant who, apart from executing district transactions also audits sectors, public primary and secondary schools, health centres and pharmacies, among others.

The complaint was raised by the officials who appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament yesterday over the Auditor General's report.

Nyamagabe district accountant, Anita Mukantampaka, said she always monitors and posts transactions for 186 non-budget agencies including district's sectors, public primary and secondary schools, health centres and among others.

"There is also a challenge of having a lot of work to do and little time to look at the receipts. Surely, having over 100 institutions to make receipts for is not an easy task," Mukantampaka told MPs, as she responded to queries by PAC Deputy Chairperson, MP Evode Kalima, over a total of Rwf2billion posted to incorrect accounts.

Different district officials appearing before PAC, as it continues to question issues highlighted in the Auditor General's report for 2011, have consistently appealed for the committee's advocacy.

Mukantampaka said the posting errors were later corrected.

The Southern Provincial Executive Secretary, Jeanne Izabiliza, also stressed the gravity of the challenge.

"It is not the only job or task that an accountant is supposed to do. At times you find that they don't even get time to go for their leave, so as to rest. They have a lot to do, and again, you even find that the one district vehicle is needed by many other people for different assignments," Izabiliza.

On the issue of posting errors, an official from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), Nathalie Mutegaraba, said: "It affects all the districts. Up to now, there is no single district that has been able to post the transactions by non budget agencies."

However, the OAG official said that the required controls should not be left to the accountants alone as internal auditors should be able to lend a hand.

When MP Jean Baptiste Musemakweli asked what other officials do, the Nyamagabe District's director of, Oscar Sebahire, said the non budget agencies are so many that he could not manage to make regular visits to all.

"If you do not have a workable plan for visiting your budget agencies, then that is where one crucial weakness lies. You must visit them regularly so that, at least people notice that someone is monitoring things," Musemakweli said.

Members of the committee acknowledged the concern and promised support but asked officials to work harder, for now, as possible solutions are being sought.

PAC is urging districts to tighten their internal control systems in public finance management.

Last month, during a consultative session in the House's plenary hall, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Finance, Pichette Kampeta Sayinzoga, told participants that the challenge faced by district accountants was known and a strategy to manage it is being devised.

Nyamagabe is among many districts in which cashbook balances were not properly reconciled to the bank statements.

According to the AG's report, cashbooks were in some cases adjusted yet the bank reconciliation statements were not updated to reflect the adjusted transactions.

Officials in Nyamagabe District, including the Mayor and Vice Mayor among others, were also grilled over concerns related to recovery of loans provided to beneficiaries of Vision Umurenge Program (VUP).

Another concern is the lack of regular follow up on districts to verify collections for contributions received from the Mutuelle de Santé medical insurance scheme beneficiaries.

In many districts, the AG report says that there was no evidence of an internal audit conducted.

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