18 July 2018

Rwanda: Fire Officials Responsible for Loss of Public Funds - MPs

Members of Parliament have urged the Prime Minister to dismiss leaders of public institutions who have failed to comply with public financial management rules and caused the government to lose billions of Rwandan francs.

They made the recommendation yesterday after the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) presented its analysis of the Auditor General (AG)'s report for the fiscal year 2016/17.

The legislators in the Lower House particularly asked Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente to fire chief budget managers and chief finance officers who have consistently failed to implement the AG's recommendations by at least 60 per cent over the last three fiscal years.

Those who contributed in the government losing money through shoddy contracts, delays in or abandonment of public works (by private contractors), as well as those involved in purchase of assets and materials that have been lying idle for a long time should also be sacked, the lawmakers insisted.

PAC chairperson Juvénal Nkusi told a plenary session of parliament that many a time officials have made mistakes and simply apologised without serious punitive measures taken against them, arguing that such a practice should stop.

"Forgiveness is good but we have to respect the law. Who has powers to forgive when it comes to abuse of public resources? No one," he said.

He added: "We have sent our recommendations to the Prime Minister as he's the head of government. He is the one who supervises all these people and should be the one to give us the answers".

Chief budget managers and chief finance officers at government institutions are usually top-level officials in ministries, parastatals and state-owned enterprises. They include permanent secretaries, directors general, among others.

The AG's report for the fiscal year 2016/17 indicated that many public institutions had failed to fully implement the previous AG's recommendations, with most of them implementing them at the rate of less than the required 60 per cent.

Notable among these institutions are University of Rwanda, which implemented the recommendations at only 26 per cent); WASAC, at 27 per cent; REB at 28 per cent; EDCL at 41 per cent, EUCL at 40.4 per cent, RBC, at 43 per cent; and RSSB at 49 per cent.

The AG's report for the 2016/17 fiscal year, published nearly three months ago, showed that cases of delayed and abandoned public works were still persisting in public entities, with audits indicating that a total of 109 contracts, worth over Rwf206 billion, had stalled.

The majority of the stalled projects were noted in districts (70 contracts), Government Business Enterprises and Boards (38 contracts), independent sector government projects (23 contracts), as well as ministries and other central government entities (eight contracts).

Regarding government's idle assets, the AG's audits identified 137 such cases worth over Rwf23 billion, including school computers, medical equipment, and water and electricity supply materials, among others.

During yesterday's session MPs insisted on seeking accountability for the malpractices committed, with many of them asking the government to take stern action.

"I support these recommendations. Mistakes are made under the watch of senior officials and action must be taken," said MP Henriette Sebera Mukamurangwa.

MP John Ruku-Rwabyoma said government should stop tolerating loss of public funds. "Those responsible must be held to account."

MP Anita Mutesi advised that it shouldn't be only top leaders that are held accountable for loss of public funds but junior officials and technocrats as well.

"It shouldn't be Chief Budget Managers alone but also whoever is responsible for these mistakes. We should probably conduct more thorough research and go after culpable technicians too," she said.

The MPs requested the Prime Minister to submit a detailed report within eight months, indicating how the recommendations by Parliament about AG's report were implemented.

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