Senators: Finance Ministry should improve monitoring of public spending

Auditor General Obadiah Biraro speaks during the presentation of his report for the fiscal year ended on June 30, 2018 at Parliamentary Buildings in Kigali. Courtesy.

It is time for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to closely follow-up on how public funds are spent if irregular expenditure is to be stopped.

The call was made yesterday by members of the senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance as they started analysing the Auditor General (AG)’s report for the fiscal year ended on June 30, 2018.

To the surprise of the lawmakers and the AG, cases of irregular expenditure of government funds as well as poor management of public contracts have continued to characterise public financial management.

As the senators met AG Obadiah Biraro, some of them wondered if the Finance ministry can’t work more closely with accountants in every government’s agency to reduce faults in managing public funds.

Senator Evariste Bizimana said that among the strategies the Senate can use to ensure proper public financial management is engaging accountants at the Finance ministry to follow up more on their work.

He said that the Ministry of Finance should be giving early warnings to chief budget managers in different institutions on a monthly basis, indicating what they need to improve in their financial management roles.

“It is a question we should be asking to the ministry’s accountants,” he said.

“It looks like a lot of money wasn’t used for the purposes it was allocated for,” Bizimana said about expenditure of public funds in the previous financial year.

Among other irregularities, the AG report for 2017-2018 fiscal year showed that public funds amounting to over Rwf5.6 billion were either wasted or swindled.

The irregular spending were in the form of unsupported expenditure, partially supported expenditure, wasteful expenditure, unauthorised expenditure and funds diverted or fraudulently utilised.

The AG’s report also identified persistent cases of delayed and abandoned contracts in public entities, with a total of 86 contracts valued at more than Rwf143 billion reported as either delayed or abandoned.

Biraro told senators yesterday that there is need for assessing the value obtained from invested public funds in every government activity if the country’s strategy for transformation is to be realised.

“We need value for money,” he said.

He warned that incompetency, recklessness, and negligence are some of the dangerous attitudes held by some public servants who have failed to account for public funds they are given to manage on behalf of the Government and citizens.

While presenting his report to Parliament for the fiscal year ended on June 30, 2018, Biraro told MPs last month that slight improvements had been made in managing public funds compared with a few years ago.

But he also called for more diligence in implementing his recommendations by audited entities, explaining that the compliance will be crucial for improving Public Financial Management (PFM).

The report will be reviewed by both chambers of Parliament and the feedback presented to the House for more consideration.


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