The New Times (Kigali)

14 February 2014

Rwanda: New Policy On Accountability for Public Funds Commendable

The new policy which seeks to make cabinet ministers assume liability for public funds that have been stolen, mismanaged or misallocated in their respective ministries is a step in the right direction with regard to accountability in the management of state finances.

This is a milestone as far as ensuring accountability for every penny spent in the public sector is concerned, and will certainly boost Rwanda's war on corruption.

Cabinet ministers are the most senior officials in their respective dockets and should therefore assume a level of responsibility when there is abuse of taxpayers' money right under their nose.

Previously mid-level officials and technocrats in ministries and public agencies have cited "orders from above" when asked to account for public funds, creating a dilemma as to who should exactly be held accountable since there were no sufficient legal mechanisms that bestowed responsibility upon those at the helm.

The new legal framework will however instill a sense of responsibility among top political leaders across the board, which means that even "orders from above" will have to conform to the law no matter the circumstances.

According to the Auditor General's office, public procurement remains the main avenue for misappropriation of public funds.

Some procurement officers and others involved with tenders in public institutions circumvent procurement procedures and illegally award tenders through single sourcing or quotations methods - as opposed to open competition - only to claim later that their superiors had influenced the decision.

The new policy now renders such excuses irrelevant because the higher authorities will be required to be the first ones to ensure value for money in public spending.

Greater power comes with greater responsibilities and the new rules will help uphold this principle.

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