Public officials who have been taking advantage of loopholes in the process of acquiring government buildings might not be able to do so following approval of a revised strategy by the cabinet. A few weeks back, the cabinet approved the strategy for acquisition and management of government buildings, which Eddy Kyazze, the Housing and Urbanisation Division Manager at the Ministry of Infrastructure, said replaces a 2015 strategy that had gaps. “This one comes in to enhance and promote accountability, transparency, efficiency and safeguard in government buildings management,” he told The New Times. The revised strategy gives clear responsibilities to every institution and during the whole process of acquisition, and it is meant to avoid malpractices that were seen previously. Noël Nsanzineza, the acting director-general at the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA), said that there was previously no clear guidance of how government buildings are purchased. “The head of a certain institution would call Rwanda Housing Authority and ask them to buy a building, and that would be done sometimes without assessing the needs of that institution,” he said. “There was no clear process of who identifies the need, who conducts the evaluation, who does the structural design, who approves the procurement, as well as valuation,” he added. That will no longer be the case. The revised strategy brings different layers of verification and approval of the entire process. The process This time around, if a certain institution wants new premises, it will express a need to a steering committee, which will be made up of Ministers of Infrastructure, Finance and Economic Planning, as well as Rwanda Development Board. That committee will assess the need then give green light to the technical committee to search for a building and identify strategic location, which will then make recommendations depending on the highlighted needs. The Rwanda Housing Authority will then take over the procurement process after seeking non-objection approval from the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA). “Rwanda Housing Authority will then spearhead the process of valuation of the building, but even before the conclusion, there must be evaluation to show what the actual market value of the proposed complex is,” Nsanzineza noted. The strategy comes as a team of top officials is in court for allegedly conspiring to mismanage a deal in which the government purchased an office building, with irregularities which cost the taxpayer a whooping Rwf2 billion. The new strategy alleviates responsibilities of maintenance of government complexes and assets from user institutions. This means that major rehabilitation and maintenance will be conducted by the Housing Authority. Paul Rwigamba, a real estate expert, says the government could have realized there was something wrong with the previous strategy, especially around how government premises are managed. “Government buildings are managed as if they are not owned by anyone. I suppose the government realized that their buildings should be managed as business,” he weighed in. Rwigamba added that the government would at some point build houses that would last 30 years, and no one would think of an option of selling them to mature their portfolio. “There was always that feeling that nobody touches government properties simply because a board sat in their office and made a decision sometimes out of limited expertise,” he noted.