Mystery over Camerwa’s alleged Rwf2 billion loss
Rwanda Biomedical Centre’s Medical Procurement and Distribution Division, which previously operated as an independent parastatal known as Camerwa, was singled out as one of the agencies that incurred massive financial losses – in the recently released 2011/2012 Auditor General’s report.
The loss was largely made through expired drugs as well as financial statements without supporting documents, according to the report.
It said the office had unsupported spending of taxpayers’ money worth 2,206,657,448; expired medicine worth over Rwf 82 million and medicine that expire in 12 months worth over Rwf270 million.
Speaking to The New Times this week, the Auditor General, Obadiah R. Biraro, reiterated the position, explaining that Camerwa gave contradicting figures while filing in their accounts.
“They used software that records details of when drugs come in, the quantities, expiry dates and many other details. They also used physical accounting alongside the software which I think they didn’t know how to use. Both methods brought in figures which were contradictory and they were unable to show supporting documents,” Biraro said.
However, this narrative is contested by the institution in question.
The Head of Medical Procurement and Distribution Division at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RMC), Emile Bienvenu, argued that the said amount was not a loss but rather the difference caused by software failure. He said the amount represented the value of the drugs as shown by the software on the cost of sales.
“We used software known as MACS in 2009 and 2010. This software managed the inventory well in terms of quantity but it was unable to make calculations related to the costing.
“This distributed inventory was deducted in quantity with the cost sale of 0 and consequently there was no deduction of the inventory/stock in the accounting books. This led the management of the institution to decommission the software in October 2010,” he said.
The official added: “To get the opening balance of the stock in the new software, the physical inventory was conducted and the cost of sale for the nine months of 2010 was established by the formula: Opening stock + Purchases - Final stock = Cost of sales.
“This resulted in the alleged two billion deficit. Supporting documents are the opening stock, the purchasing and the final stock. It was not possible to go through all invoices of the year to establish, one by one, their corresponding cost of sale,” he added.
“There was a shift in software which caused this because the former software had limitations in accounting. It had some modules which weren’t working. However, we are now upgrading software to avoid such difficulties in the future,” he explained.
Regarding the issue of accountability, Bienvenu explained that they didn’t have a procurement plan which was a major challenge, adding that now each referral hospital will be sending them a procurement plan.
He also pointed out a limitation they’ve been having of software that couldn’t allow them to separate the books of accounting
King Faisal Hospital was also named as having unused medicine worth over Rwf1 billion because they were lying idle. They gave the drugs to Camerwa for sale but only seven per cent of the medicine was bought.
This has raised public concerns since pharmacies and other health facilities often face drug shortages.
Camerwa tried to sell the excess drugs which are mainly used by district and other referral hospitals, but since the stock was handed over when they were about to expire, there was no other choice, according to Bienvenu.
Dr Alex Butera, Acting Chief Executive Officer, King Faisal Hospital, said they discovered early that the drugs had expired and alerted the government.
“The expired drugs were mostly for rare diseases which limits the demand for particular drugs. So since they stay long without demand, they expire. However, we dealt with the issue immediately and sent back all the expired drugs,” he said.
Butera stated that they inspect their drug stock every three months, urging the public to remain calm since “the issue was identified and necessary remedies taken”.
Contact email: maria.kaitesi[at]newtimes.co.rw