BERNA NAMATA talked to Rwanda’s Accountant General
What are your roles as the country’s Accountant General?
My major role is to ensure that all government accounts are consolidated into one set. These consolidated accounts are sent to the Auditor General annually for auditing and used for decision making.
I am also charged with the responsibility of ensuring sound financial management in the country and to that effect we have had to lay a foundation of sound financial management.
How do you verify information or prevent ghost figures?
We have a pool of accountants whose job is to verify the information received. We also have an internal audit unit working with an international accounting firm that is assisting us in quality assurance .We also have a number of checks , for instance for banks accounts we can independently get information from the Central Bank and compare with what the budget agency has provided to make sure it is balancing.
In technical terms we have a trial balance system –this is a summary of all the transactions carried out.
Any steps you are undertaking to create a sound financial management system in Rwanda?
We started by putting in place the legal and regulatory framework to facilitate implementation of the new Public Financial Management (PFM) reforms.
We have the Organic Budget Law on State finances and property, public procurement, public accounts committees and various laws on taxation have been enacted.
The reform Strategy also covers all the dimensions of Public Finance Management, excluding Parliamentary Oversight.
How do you justify huge investments in PFMs?
Accountability and good financial management are components of good governance. It was appropriate that government sinks in that money.
The main drivers of cost are capacity building (training accountants) and setting up advanced information management systems for public financial management.
How is this related to economic development?
It improves service delivery and ensures efficient, effective and accountable use of public resources which is a basis for economic development and poverty eradication.
The economic and financial numbers complement each other because they give a wider picture of what takes place in government.
Any challenges in your work?
The biggest challenge at the moment is that accounting is relatively a new profession in the country so we do not have enough human resource.
Even the few qualified people do not want to work for government because of the pay and decide to work for the private sector or form their own accounting firms and make money.
We are trying to address this by training more people into the profession including sending them abroad for training. Statistics from the Institute of certified accountants, we do not have more than 40 qualified accountants.