22 January 2019

Rwanda: Officials Call for Speedy RBC Reforms

The Medical Procurement and Production Division (MPPD) needs to be an independent body separate from Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) in order to improve delivery of its services to Rwandans.

A draft law that seeks to make that happen is already at the cabinet level and needs to be tabled in Parliament as soon as possible in order to help improve things at the RBC, officials said.

The draft laws, one that will govern RBC and another one that will govern MPPD as separate institutions, have been in the pipeline for the last two years and officials at RBC told the Senate yesterday it was time to push for these draft pieces of legislations to be enacted into laws.

The officials, who included Jeanine Condo, the Director General of RBC, and James Kamanzi, her deputy, were appearing before the Senate as part of an on-going assessment by the senators to understand the reasons behind accounting and performance flaws at various government institutions as indicated by several reports by the Auditor General (AG).

For RBC, its officials said, what needed to be done to improve its accounting systems was simple; automate more of its reporting systems and separate its operations from those conducted by MPPD.

The reason behind the separation was mooted about two years ago when it became clear that MPPD's public financial reporting does not match with other public entities.

About two years ago, Kamanzi told members of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that MPPD was more or less like a business organisation because it procures drugs and sells them and its way of financial reporting was different from that of other institutions funded by the national budget.

Those realities became clearer as RBC struggled to meet requirements from the AG.

Now RBC officials say that reforms are needed in order to improve the body's accounting and accountability systems.

Condo told senators that RBC leaders will do their best to clean up their accounting but also requested them to push the Government to fast-track the necessary reforms at the body.

"We still hope that we are going to work hard; we have to keep our financial audits clean," she said.

The AG report for the fiscal year 2016/17 indicated that there were delays on the part of RBC to make disbursements for various health programmes.

RBC is responsible for coordinating various health sector programmes, including ensuring timely transfer of funds required by hospitals, health centres and civil society organisations to implement various programmes.

But the AG report, published in April last year, indicated that there were significant delays in making the transfers requested by district hospitals.

The delays ranged between 35 to 239 days and, in some cases, the transfers were received by hospitals after the quarter targeted had ended.

"This ultimately affects the timeliness of implementation of planned activities," the AG wrote in the report.

On the other hand, the report said that district hospitals continued to experience weaknesses in the accounting and management of funds put at their disposal.

Other issues indicated by the AG report in the programmes managed by RBC include cases of idle assets and incomplete fixed assets identified in eleven district hospitals across the country.

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