14 February 2013

Rwanda: Premier to Appear Before Parliament

Lawmakers yesterday resolved to summon the Premier, Dr. Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, for failure to implement parliament's recommendations on previous reports by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG).

It was one of the resolutions adopted Thursday as the Chamber of Deputies concluded a two-day session after the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) presented its final analysis of the 2010/11 audit report by the OAG.

The recommendations were presented on Wednesday by PAC Chairperson MP Juvénal Nkusi, and his deputy, MP Evode Kalima.

While presenting their report, Kalima drew the lawmakers' anger when he said that the Prime Minister's Office had not presented to Parliament its action on the House's recommendations on the 2009/10 AOG report since March 2012, despite parliament's reminder last October.

Speaker Rose Mukantabana said, "The committee's initial recommendation was that the Premier's office presents to Parliament the implementation of recommendations of the 2009/10 report. But just as it has been requested by many, this can also be amended, and the Prime Minister will come to explain to Parliament, verbally, the manner in which all these recommendations taken from the OAG reports by Parliament are executed."

It was also recommended that the Ministry of Finance fixes once and for all, problems related to the use of the SMART Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), accounting software used by public institutions.

Budget managers claim that the system is complicated.

In addition, the House wants the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA), among others, to set up a proper monthly system of monitoring tendering procedures and providing regular reports.

"The RPPA should especially examine why there were faulty procedures in public tenders," the MPs said.

The Ministry of Public Service and Labour, as recommended, should also explain causes of what the Auditor General's report highlights as periodic staff turnovers in public institutions, which, in turn, affect public finance management.

Last year, the PAC grilled several government officials over financial mismanagement cases raised in the 2010/11 audit report.

Like the previous report, the latest report presented to Parliament, last June, indicates that government ministries and parastatals spent at least Rwf5.9 billion without supporting documents during the 2010/11 audit period.

MPs and the OAG concur that, among other vexing scenarios, the lack of supporting documents, whether intended or not, cannot be tolerated as it could open the window for misappropriation of tax payers' money.

Embezzled funds, according to the 2010/11 report, amount to Rwf627million, compared to Rwf81 million in the previous report.

Lawmakers insisted more needs to be done to purge loopholes that enable siphoning of tax payers' money.

MP Alfred Rwasa Kayiranga, Chairperson of the Committee on Political Affairs and Gender, said, "We should not continue sitting in this Parliament when they are telling us that there are institutions that have since 2009 had recurring errors in their systems, or transactions that have no supporting documents!"

Proposal for special court deferred

Meanwhile, MP Henriette Mukamurangwa and MPs proposed that a special anti-corruption court be set up.

Mukamurangwa said, "I think there should be another special court to follow up the embezzlement of public funds. In addition, we must come up with a final resolution on this issue of disrespecting the Office of the Auditor General."

MP Théobald Mporanyi also insisted that like Singapore, Rwanda must set up a special court to prosecute embezzlement and wastage of public funds.

"Singapore set up a specialised corruption court to try all involved in embezzlement. This is the only remedy to this problem," Mporanyi said.

However, the Speaker requested that talk of a special court be put on hold for the mean time and give a chance to the current options.

The Speaker said, "I request that we don't include this today but first hear from government about challenges faced in implementing all other previous recommendations, especially since other decisions were taken on how to recover embezzled funds."

"You all know there is a law we passed, which gives Prosecution more powers in relation to following up cases of embezzlement of public funds. We should wait and see the outcome of its implementation and, if there are difficulties, we could consider other options."

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