AG: Fraudsters mustn’t go scot-free

Members of Parliament during the presentation of the Auditor General’s report at the Parliamentary Buildings on Monday. Courtesy.

The Auditor General,Obadiah Biraro, has challenged responsible institutions to pursue people who cause losses to government.

He was this week discussing issues that have been highlighted in his office’s new report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018.

The report, which was released on Monday, revealed wide ranging cases of irregularities in public accounting as well as mismanagement of public projects.

It highlights possible mismanagement such as persistent cases of delayed and abandoned contracts, stalled government projects and idle assets.

One such case is an example of Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA), which initiated a project to automate the operations of Umurenge Savings and Credit Co-Operative (SACCO).

The more than Rwf3 billion project failed, he said.

In order to implement the project, RCA hired FINTECH International Ltd to provide consultancy service for the automation of Umurenge SACCOs

“Many projects are stalled because of procurement procedures. And some projects are abandoned because of the lack of a feasibility study, supervision, technical expertise but also we can’t leave behind corruption,” he said.

All these issues, he explained, have an impact on the lives of Rwandans.

However, the AG says, the consultant was unable to develop an integrated core banking system for Umurenge SACCOs and a cooperative bank within the agreed timeframe.

“The main responsibility must be on RCA, but also the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning is involved as they the ones who pay,” he added.

You can share that money with 416 sectors and improve people’s lives, he added.

The AG’s report also identified persistent cases of delayed and abandoned contracts in public entities.

A total of 86 contracts valued at more than Rwf143 billion have been reported as either delayed or abandoned.

“Imagine that some projects were abandoned where the government already paid 70 per cent of the price. It is a loss and it is the citizens who suffer. Because they can’t have what they were expecting,” he emphasised.

He mentioned that they had some cases of unsupported expenditure or funds that are fraudulently used amounting more that Rwf5 billion and responsible people must not be tolerated.

“Normally supporting documents come before the money is used and must be kept for not less than 10 years. Not having a supporting document is a crime. People who use public money without supporting documents are criminals and should be punished,” he reiterated.

The Auditor General also noted that the implementation of the AG recommendations is still low at 49 per cent.

“People do not implement our recommendations, there is a need to double efforts in implementing them in order to improve public financial management,” he stated.

The Office of the Auditor General will keep on fulfilling its tasks, and this has an impact as many people fear to misuse public money because of audits, he said.