Pension fund put to task over “expensive” housing projects

Rwanda Social Security Board Director-General Richard Dusabe addresses members of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday. Sam Ngendahimana.

Members of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have grilled Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) for developing houses that only cater for the interests of the middle and high-income earners.

Informed by the Auditor General 2016-2017 report, MPs asked RSSB officials to explain why most of the housing projects have excluded low-income earners.

“The investments by RSSB are people’s money and that is why members’ contributions must be invested to serve all social categories of Rwandans,” said MP Beline Uwineza.

Analysing the investments, Annonciata Mukarugwiza, the Deputy Chairperson of the committee, said that some houses are sold at a slow pace which increases administrative and management fees as well as prolonged project payback.

By December last year, only 213 of 504 houses at the Vision City real estate in Gaciliro, Kigali were booked, she disclosed.

“The cumulative sales revenues stood at Rwf18.8 billion which is 25 per cent of the expected revenue of Rwf75 billion,” she revealed, adding that these are for only the high middle-income segment of the population.

Officials from RSSB said that around 100 houses at Vision City estate are yet to be booked.

MPs also said that the occupancy rate of some houses constructed by RSSB is low, citing the commercial buildings in the districts of Karongi, Rwamagana, Nyanza, Nyagatare and others.

“RSSB should follow up on every investment to ensure that members get returns,” Mukarugwiza said.

Richard Dusabe, the Director-General of RSSB, told MPs that due to various issues, the return on their investments was still low.

“The return on our investments is still around 6 per cent. This is very low and we need human capital and brains that can help us invest in areas with high returns. We need to perform better since this institution contributes 10 per cent of all national economic drivers,” he said.

RSSB owns equity investments and real estate investments

He noted that the public pension body is working with private companies to design a project that will build affordable houses, valued at between Rwf15 million and Rwf20 million.

“We want low-income earners to feel included in our investment products. We are going to design a project where we can build 10,000 housing units of such kind. By the end of the year we will have completed the study,” he said.

The Auditor General, Obadiah Biraro, urged the board to draft a wish list which parliament and the Auditor General could base on while advocating for reforms or restructuring.

Other issues observed in the report include procurement flaws. It was found that out of the 88 tenders that were in the procurement action plan, 27 were not offered while 13 new ones were added without a clear framework on the causes.

 “We urge the institution to make use of the programme that trains and produces certified accountants that was set up in 2008. That will also ensure professionalisation among the human resources,” Biraro added.

He urged the institutions to work under performance contracts in order to implement Auditor Generals’ report recommendations.

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