Early access to financial statements from public entities, and the powers to audit all specialised organs as provided for in the organic law on public finance, is expected to enhance the Auditor General’s checking work, according to a senior legislator. MP Omar Munyaneza, Chairperson of the Committee on National Budget and Patrimony at the Chamber of Deputies, told The New Times that under the new law, the Auditor General was given more powers to audit institutions that were previously not audited by this office. The law was passed by the Chamber of Deputies on August 3, and by the Senate on August 12. For instance, Munyaneza said, the Auditor General was not auditing the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), but this time, he will be doing it. Specialised entities, such as BNR have specialised management, including being autonomous in terms of budget management. Munyaneza said that though such organs were not drawing finances directly from the national budget, they were using public funds. “The new change is meant to ensure that, though they are not allocated funds from the approved national budget, their finances be audited [to know how they manage public funds],” he said. “What this means is that the way they use public funds is going to be known. So, if there are cases of public funds mismanagement, that will be exposed,” he said. AG speaks out Auditor General, Alexis Kamuhire, told The New Times the only entity it was not auditing at all among specialised organs is the national bank because of the legal consideration. Currently, BNR’s Board of Directors has the power to appoint an independent auditor of the bank as provided by the law of 2017 governing it. Kamuhire said that some Government Business Enterprises (GBEs) were being audited by auditing firms but under the supervision of the Office of the Auditor General of State Finances (OAG), indicating that they use the AG’s methodology and he has to sign the report after he is satisfied with it. He cited RwandAir (the national carrier) whose performance was being assessed by KPMG – a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services – under the OAG’s mandate. The new law states that the OAG carries out an audit of public finance management in all public sector entities. “This is complying with the Constitution [of the Republic of Rwanda], which stipulates that it is the Auditor General who audits public entities, and submits a report to Parliament,” he said. Meanwhile, while explaining the relevance of the legislation to the Senate on August 8 this year, Richard Tusabe, Minister of State in charge of National Treasury at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) said that the AG has a room to commission audits under his supervision, if need be. “The provision that the Auditor General audits all public entities is meant to ensure that he can check their performance based on their risk profile, and decide where to put priority, but we have also given him the options to employ others [auditing firms] so that the scope is maintained,” he said. Early access to financial statements According to the new law, each public sector entity must submit its annual financial statements to the Minister in charge of finance and economic planning and a copy thereof to the Auditor General of State Finances within 45 days (a month and a half) following the end of the fiscal year. Under the 2013 legislation, public entities were required to submit their annual financial statements to the Auditor General not later than September 30 of the following fiscal year. The development means that the AG will be getting the financial statements not later than August 15 of the next fiscal year, or a month and a half earlier than the previous provision, Munyaneza said. “This implies that he [the Auditor General] will be getting them [financial statements] earlier, which can help him to expedite audits and possibly the submission of a related report to Parliament,” he said. “This in line with accounting for public finances, and preventing losses or recovering those that were already incurred, at an earlier time,” he observed. Commenting on this move, Kamuhire said that the AG will start auditing public entities as soon as he receives their financial statements, indicating that this means his Office will be providing Rwandans information about public finance management in a timely manner. “So, we will inform Rwandans whether what they said in the financial statements is right, or there is a problem, and we will indicate that problem,” he said, citing mismanagement of public funds.