31 March 2014

Rwanda: EWSA to Name Officials Implicated in Irregularities

The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has asked the Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) to furnish the oversight committee with a list of people responsible for financial losses and mismanagement highlighted in the 2011/12 Auditor-General's report.

Part of the issues highlighted in the report included a purchase of $1.1 million (about Rwf745 million) oracle software that is non-operational despite EWSA's continued remittance of Rwf90,000 annual licence fee for it for the last five years. Also, PAC heard that EWSA loses 20 per cent of its generated power, about 14 million cubic metres of water generates no revenue, while millions of francs could not be accounted for.

"I want answers; I want names of people responsible for this mess. I want to know the decision EWSA is taking against the people responsible for this mess before April 4," PAC chairperson Juvenal NKusi told the utility management and board while closing the hearing on EWSA case last week. While reviewing the 2011/12 Auditor-General's report, EWSA came under fire over 80 queries that mainly rotated around mismanagement.

It is those queries that PAC based on to summon the utility's top management. Although PAC quizzed the officials to establish who exactly is responsible for the mismanagement, it was noted that the majority of EWSA managers and board members were new at the entity. "I want a timeline of when and how these issues are going to be solved and, if need be, we will go down to the field for physical verification," said Nkusi.

'Sense of responsibility'

MP Jean Thierry Karemera suggested that prosecution investigates the entity since there were signs of embezzlement. "We don't spend days here just talking, decisions we take here are serious and represent the position of Parliament. That is why prosecution should investigate these issues," he said. PAC hearings are always attended by an official from the Prosecutor-General's office and the Auditor-General.

Theoneste Karenzi, PAC vice chairperson, advised the management of EWSA to have a sense of responsibility since they are dealing with public needs and taxpayer's money. "The board should as well be more vibrant and follow up daily operations of the management. Start with drawing a strategic plan," he said.

Currently, EWSA is undergoing restructuring and by August, the agency would have been split into the Energy Holding Company-with a mandate of managing energy development and electricity distribution-and the Water and Sanitation Company charged with management of water resources and distribution.

"You have a responsibility of ensuring that the accounts are balancing and all issues are sorted before the split in August. We are aware you assumed EWSA when it had many issues, but we still believe you can clean up the mess," said MP Theogene Munyangeyo. PAC is going to compile a report which will present to the plenary.

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