The Chamber of Deputies’ Public Accounts Committee will, on Monday, begin scrutiny into the accountability problems in public institutions that were raised in the 2017 Auditor General’s performance audit report.
The proceedings, that are open to the public, are held annually with the heads of public institutions and their accounting officers summoned to explain irregularities raised by the Auditor General in his annual reports.
The hearings will kick off with the committee’s scrutiny of the Rural Income through Export (PRICE) project, which was initiated to promote, among other things, coffee, tea and silkworm seedlings to boost agricultural exports.
Though it got a clean audit in 2016, the then members of PAC asked the AG to conduct a performance audit report to establish whether the funds allocated to PRICE were indeed being used efficiently to achieve the project’s goals.
The Auditor General, Obadiah Biraro, told Sunday Times in a telephone interview that the other institutions include the ministries of justice, trade and industry and that of public service plus the Rwanda Cooperatives Agency and the Rwanda Agricultural Board.
Biraro reminded that these particular hearings are part of the backlog that was left behind by the previous committee, arguing that there were specific areas the team would be scrutinizing.
“To be clear, these hearings are from the 2017 auditor general’s performance audit report which looks at activities. In this particular one, we are auditing economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which the acquisition and utilisation of government resources were done,” he explained.
Fitting in large shoes
For some members of the committee, this will be the first time they will be chairing such a hearing as some are first time MPs.
MP Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze who is tasked with chairing the committee that was previously headed by MP Juvénal Nkusi since it was set up six years ago, is a first-term legislator.
Nkusi did not contest in the parliamentary elections last year and instead went into retirement.
During an interview with Sunday Times, Ngabitsinze said that together with fellow committee members, they will build on what their predecessors achieved to ensure every public penny spent is accounted for.
“My view is that we can use the little resources we have as a country to make tremendous things out of it. Our work as a committee will be to analyse the use of funds and see if they are used well,” he said.
These hearing will level ground for the new committee before the Auditor General’s Annual Report is release around May before it’s followed by more strenuous hearings of over twenty institutions.