Busingye enlists support to recover govt funds

Justice minister and Attorney General Johnston Busingye. File.

The Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye, yesterday said that a push from other institutions is necessary if government is to recover what it is owed.

He said this while briefing the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the progress made since the recommendations made by the Auditor General’s 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 reports.

Busingye said that, while his ministry’s duty was to defend government interests in court, the recovery of the monies owed to the government from litigations that have been won is the responsibility of the institutions involved.

“For example, if the Ministry of Health is taken to court, our duty is to defend it. Should we win, the Ministry (of Health) is supposed to find a bailiff and put them on pressure to recover the money. The process to recover the money is not simple and only very few institutions had a budget for that,” he said.

Building a system

To fix this, Busingye said that a system was built where they can find all the important details of those that owe the government commending it for making a difference.

“We decided to build a system where all court conclusions where all the details of anyone in court, including their ID number, their possessions are registered way before they even start appearing in court. This was because we wanted to have a starting point in case you lose a case and you owe government,” he explained.

He also said that Memorandums Of Agreements with Rwanda Revenue Authority, Land Center, National ID Agency, traffic police, Migration and Immigration Authority, banks and the Credit Reference Bureau among others to all who remind you about that debt when you approach them. For land related matters, the land center in particular blocks any plans that the debtor may have.

The road to recovery

In a recent interview with Saturday Times, the head of legal services department at the Ministry of Justice, Théophile Mbonera, said that new measures in recovering the funds are giving hope that the money could be recovered faster than it used to be.

In total, the government seeks to recover Rwf7.3 billion still owed by people who were convicted of different crimes over the last 24 years.

The debt was accumulated mainly from court fines for cases in which people were convicted of crimes that range from making decisions that caused the government unnecessary losses, corruption and embezzlement to unfair dismissal among other crimes.

Embezzlement accounts for the lion’s share, claiming over Rwf6.3 billion out of the total sum owed to the government by convicted individuals.

Mbonera said that one of the strategies for recovery is that districts have already put under their performance contracts the need to recover the money and they can now go after any individual who owes money to the government.

“When the government loses a case, it pays. Rwandans should also understand that they should pay the government when they lose cases. We urge whoever owes money to the Government to pay up in order to prevent additional costs that come with forced execution of judgements,” he said.

The Chairman of PAC; MP Jean-Chrysostom Ngabitsinze commended the Ministry for the progress made and appealed to them to consistently share information so that PAC can help in such processes.

“I am very impressed because there is some improvement and a sense of direction. However, as you update the list we would like to request you to always share this information on a regular basis so that we can hold some of these institutions accountable. We pledge our support,” he said.