The Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday, September 23 cautioned the City of Kigali against expropriating residents before compensating them, insisting that the expropriation law must always be respected. It was during a virtual public hearing in which the City of Kigali senior managers were providing explanations on irregularities exposed by the Auditor General’s 2018/2019 report on State finances. PAC pointed to over Rwf3.4 billion arrears owed to people who were affected by the expropriation for the construction of roads in the City. The delays were between 16 and 1140 days. The law relating to expropriation in the public interest which was enacted in 2015 provides that the approved fair compensation shall be paid within a period not exceeding 120 days from the day of its approval by the district or City of Kigali Council or the relevant ministry. The law further stipulates that the compensation for disruption caused by expropriation to be paid to the expropriated person shall be equivalent to 5 per cent of the total value of his/her property expropriated. “1140 days is about three years. I think it is not fair to compensate someone on the basis of valuation conducted three years before,” said MP Jeanne d’Arc Uwimanimpaye. PAC Chairperson Valens Muhakwa said that when residents are expropriated, it means that they no longer have rights on the property, telling the City officials to consider the livelihoods of those citizens during such a period. “You should look for more means to protect the rights and care for the living conditions of the citizens,” he said. The City of Kigali Manager, Julian Rugaza told PAC members that the delays in paying the due expropriations are a problem of cash flow plan whereby a project is approved but the budget to implement it is not readily available. City Mayor, Pudence Rubingiza promised PAC that going forward, construction of roads or other public projects will be done after offering people compensation for their property. Arrears owed to contractors The City of Kigali was also criticised for delaying to pay invoices of contractors or suppliers for the work they did, whereby more than Rwf1 billion in outstanding bills for 263 days were identified by the 2018/2019 audit report. MPs wondered why such cases occur, expressing concern that the City faces fines in case contracts provide for it, which implies wasteful expenditure of public finances. Still, Rugaza said that the main issue is cash flow, explaining that the City collects most of the revenues from September of every year to March of the next year, while it faces shortage of funds in other months.