17 May 2017

Rwanda: Justice Ministry Toughens Stance On Delayed and Abandoned Projects

Photo: The New Times
Construction of a road in Rwanda (file photo).

There is no value for money in delayed or abandoned contracts or projects as it results into waste of taxpayers' money, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice has said.

Isabelle Kalihangabo was speaking at a workshop between the ministry and legal officers from about 150 public institutions on Monday in Kigali.

The meeting was convened to discuss Rwanda OnLine e-Procurement System in public institutions, and the Auditor-General's report for 2015/16.

"Delayed and abandoned projects always come with a cost as it involves continuing to pay the entrepreneur and incurring extra payments caused by the rise in prices," Kalihangabo said.

Between 2013/14 and 2015/16 financial years, 98 contracts, worth Rwf95.67 billion, were either abandoned or significantly delayed, according to the AG's report.

Some 24 of those contracts, worth Rwf13.39 billion, were abandoned and contractors disappeared after receiving payments of Rwf5.62 billion.

The abandoned contracts were in the areas of infrastructure, including water, energy and roads, health and agriculture.

Kalihangabo said delayed work contracts have been rising from nine in 2014 to 16 in 2015 and soared to 73 in 2016, which she said is a problem as there are wasted funds.

"Having 24 contracts worth over Rwf13 billion abandoned, yet expropriation was made, contractors as well as supervisors for those projects were paid; such waste is unacceptable," she said.

Institutions having clean audit reports, Kalihangabo said, slightly increased from 80 in 2014/15 to 88 out of 147 provided by the Auditor-General.

PS Kalihangabo warned that those who make taxpayers lose money should not be let off, and challenged legal advisors and other public officials to make more efforts to help institutions lagging behind also have standard reports so as to ensure transparency and efficient public expenditure.

She said the new e-procurement system will help address such issues.

Reaping from e-Procurement

Kalihangabo said some tenders were previously being given to people without capacity due to corruption, leading to overcharging because contractors wanted to recover their money.

The e-Procurement, expected to come into force in July, is expected to reduce face-to-face negotiations between the entities engaged in bidding and the public institutions offering tenders, hence reducing risk of corruption.

"The system will detect forged documents, including certificates of good completion and CVs," she said, pointing out that it will also solve the issue of lack of data that was caused by manual filing as it will keep bidder's database online.

Fred Bazatsinda, a specialist at e-Procurement project jointly managed by Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, said over 2,500 public businesses have already registered for e-Procurement system.

He said in the current system, the person offering a tender could manipulate things, including deliberately giving tender document with mistakes to some bidders and a genuine one to a preferred bidder.

"This new e-Procurement has been initiated by the government to address such problems; all bidders will have accurate and equal information and enable appropriate service delivery to Rwandans," Bazatsinda said.

The system was designed and completed in December 2015 by Korean programme developers.

The pilot phase of the programme started in July last year with eight government institutions.

Effective July 1, 2017, all public institutions will have their tenders offered through this system, according to government officials.

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