Government will no longer tolerate those who continue to cost the nation through mismanagement and embezzlement of public funds, the president of the Senate, Bernard Makuza said yesterday.
Makuza was speaking at a consultative meeting that brought together members of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the Auditor General, ministers and other officials from the Ministries of Finance, Local Government, and Justice, and other stakeholders to discuss recommendations issued after the release of the AG’s report last year.
In his 2015/16 annual report released in May last year, the Auditor General indicated that public entities spent nearly Rwf7 billion without supporting documents during the period under review, while partially supported expenditure amounted to Rwf7.4 billion.
At the time, the AG criticized public entities for reluctance to implement his annual recommendations designed to ensure value for money and accountability in public expenditure, adding that his previous recommendations had been executed at just 50 per cent.
Addressing a packed Senate hall, Makuza said that the country would have achieved more than double what it has achieved today if the money disbursed for developmental projects was being used the right way.
“We have lost billions to embezzlement; there are stalled projects, poorly managed projects, and arrears running in billions; carelessness, laxity – some intentional – will not be tolerated because they cost Rwandans the opportunity to continue developing. We need to find a solution…money embezzled should be recovered,” he said.
Makuza pointed out that, in the past ten years, the Office of the Auditor General was able to increase the number of institutions it audits, and the figure currently stands at 85 per cent of all public institutions.
“Issues remain; there are still mistakes in how public funds are managed. Why is it that the same people repeatedly appear before the committee over the same issues? What is evident is that it is not a lack of expertise or knowledge because those who embezzle funds have proven to use smart and sophisticated methods, which even the courts of law find complicated,” he said.
Auditor General Obadiah Biraro said that incompetence, indifference and recklessness should be tackled head on.
“Why are you in that position if you cannot deliver?” he wondered. He advised ministers to be directly involved because it is their responsibility.
University of Rwanda Vice Rector in Charge of Finance, Françoise Tengera Karitanyi, blamed public funds mismanagement issue on budgetary and coordination hitches.
UR has over the years become one of the institutions that are consistently mentioned in the AG’s report for mismanagement of funds.
“There are activities that are meant to be completed in one year and others in three or four years which are not properly linked to the budget where some projects are planned before time while for others there are delays. This affects the budget because the money is not available or sometimes the money is even much more. It is important that there is budgetary plan overhaul,” she said.
She explained that there are contractors that win tenders but in the end, they fail to deliver. She also said that the university has many employees who are not knowledgeable enough in the finance area.
The 2016/2017 Auditor General’s report is expected next month.