PAC challenges finance ministry on parastatals’ poor performance

Minister of finance Uzziel Ndagijimana speaks during a session with the public accounts committee at parliament yesterday. Nadege Imbabazi.

Members of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday tasked the Ministry of Finance to explain why several government institution have been getting poor review in the Auditor General’s reports.

The Committee said this during proceedings to scrutinise accountability issues raised in the 2017 Auditor General’s performance audit report.

Addressing the team which was headed by Minister Uzziel Ndagijimana, MP Christine Bakundufite said that although 60 per cent of the government institutions had gotten clean finance audits, there was need to look into the issue of performance which is still below standard.

“Sixty per cent of the audits are commendable but while we are seeing clean finance audits, it is a different story when it comes to performance. What strategy is there for us to get value for money because we tend to see that money was released as planned but there are no results to match them,” she wondered.

Her sentiments were echoed by MP Marie Mediatrice Izabiriza who commended the efforts put into improving financial audits from 3 per cent in 2008 to the present 60 per cent but also stated her confusion about the disconnect between the money spent and the results realised.

“When you get to ministries, for instance, they have clean audits but when you look at the institutions that fall under them, it is a different story. We are having trouble understanding how this happens,” she said.

The Chairperson of the Committee, MP Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, told the team that there was need to dig deep into the issue if any results were to be realised.

“We would like to know if the teams set up in each of these institutions to deal with the issue of performance has made a difference. We are interested in knowing what the real issue is and what can be done whether technical or even political to make sure that things change,” he said.

Challenges

The Ministry of Finance’s Accountant General, Marcel Mukeshimana, agreed with the MPs, saying that institutions like Rwanda Energy Group, Water and Sanitation Corporation, University of Rwandan and Rwanda Agriculture Board among others have persistently exhibited recurring mistakes.

Citing an example of UR, Mukeshimana blamed these issues in these institutions of vast mandates that most times don’t match the abilities of their support teams.

He pointed out that an overhaul of the structure in terms of administration in finance, planning and procurement continues to be done and so far, there has been evidence of change in the business processes of these institution.

“In that area of changing structure, building capacity and training, we are already seeing results in institutions like Rwanda Development Board, Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Rwanda Transport Development Agency and Rwanda Maintenance Fund,” he said.

While he acknowledged that there was a mismatch between planning and execution, he said that changes are ongoing to fix that.

“We have previously seen a disconnection between execution and planning. In most cases you find that there are very good action and strategic plans but when it gets to budgeting, the team goes in the opposite direction but right now, planning is taking centre stage on all levels. This has changed many things,” he said.

He admitted that there was still a long way to go when it comes to value for money but all efforts were being put in fixing all the loopholes are covered so that all the money is well planned for and there is no wastage.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com