All set for PAC to begin accountability proceedings

The Chamber of Deputies' Public Accounts Committee will, tomorrow, begin proceedings to scrutinise accountability issues raised in the 2012/2013 Auditor General's report.
Parliamentarians in a past plenary session. PAC is set to begin proceedings to check accountability issues that were raised in the last financial year Auditor General’s report. (File)
Parliamentarians in a past plenary session. PAC is set to begin proceedings to check accountability issues that were raised in the last financial year Auditor General’s report. (File)

The Chamber of Deputies’ Public Accounts Committee will, tomorrow, begin proceedings to scrutinise accountability issues raised in the 2012/2013 Auditor General’s 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 the irregularities raised by the Auditor General in his annual reports.

The reports, hearings and, where applicable, prosecutions are part of the government’s efforts to ensure proper use of public resources.

The government has placed accountability among its top priorities.

And, according to MP Théoneste Karenzi, these efforts are slowly paying off going by the growing number of institutions that are pulling off clean audits.

“What is clear is that the trend of accountability in public institutions is positive,” said Karenzi, who is the Deputy Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

“Improvements are evident in terms of efforts by public institutions to be accountable, and the implementation of the Auditor General’s report recommendations,” Karenzi added.

The public institutions which have shown clean audits have risen from 28 per cent in 2011/2012 to 32 per cent in 2012/2013, according to the Auditor General’s report.

“If 28 to 32 per cent of the total audited institutions show unqualified opinion report (clean audit), this is a relatively fair review,” Karenzi pointed out.

However, not all is well. There are serious issues raised in the report that will be scrutinised in the forthcoming public hearings.

These include revenues generated by Non Budget Assets (NBAs), including health centres and secondary schools and over Rwf170 billion spent outside the treasury system and not included in state consolidated statements.

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Karenzi speaks to The New Times over the weekend. (John Mbanda)

“In such cases, where there is expenditure of public funds without subjecting it to public finance management controls, there could be risks of embezzlement and fraud,” Karenzi explained.

The 2012/13 AG’s report indicates that Rwf175.8 billion was generated by NBAs and not accounted for in the financial statements of districts.

The report also shows that over Rwf23 billion was lost in poor contract management procedures.

Some of the contracts were either delayed or abandoned after payments for execution had been done.

“Of the 55 contracts abandoned, 16 were from Gatsibo, six from Rusizi and four from Ruhango districts,” reads the report in part.

“The possibility here is that there could be complicity with those that gave out the contracts.

There is a big problem in contract management. This slows economic development and service delivery is also affected,” Karenzi added.

There are eight fraudulent cases indicated in the report involving Rfw532.6 million, while over Rwf660 million was reported from stolen assets in 16 institutions and projects.

“Majority of these cases are in courts and prosecution, we hope recovery will be reached in due time,” he said.

Karenzi told The New Times that 26 public institutions which – according to the AG’s report - showed excessive incompetency in accountability, have been summoned to the public hearings.

“What we do is in the public interest, we are asking accounting officers to use public finances well. And the public should follow up to know how their money is spent, that is why they need to attend these hearings,” Karenzi said.

“With good accountability, we shall reach our development objectives,” he added.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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