Fix accountability gaps, RDB told

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has asked Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to ensure value for money while undertaking various development projects.
MP Karenzi (R) talks to Auditor-General Obadiah Biraro after a meeting last year. Karenzi and his PAC team have challenged RDB to ensure value for money while undertaking various development projects. (John Mbanda)
MP Karenzi (R) talks to Auditor-General Obadiah Biraro after a meeting last year. Karenzi and his PAC team have challenged RDB to ensure value for money while undertaking various development projects. (John Mbanda)

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has asked Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to ensure value for money while undertaking various development projects.

The MPs made the remarks on Friday while meeting RDB officials at their premises in the ongoing series of follow-up exercises to check on the implementation of resolutions adopted by the Plenary during the analysis of the 2012/2013 Auditor-General’s (AG) report on the state finances.

Théoneste Karenzi, the PAC deputy chairperson, noted that there were a couple of accountability issues and gaps in designing various development projects, especially in information technology projects, which later failed during implementation phase.

“We want to see another level of value for money and proper utilisation of state finances,” said Karenzi.

Through RDB, government spent about $1.7 million to roll out an electronic Document Tracking and Workflow Management System (DTWMS) in select government institutions to ease the tracking and long term preservation of documents through streamlined and automated processes within the public sector.

According to the 2013 AG report, DTWMS was installed in 55 government institutions and 4,069 users were trained on how to use the system.

However, there were no measurable performance targets and expected output for each of the key objectives of DTWMS.

The AG cited a number of public institutions, including the Ministries of Agriculture; Finance and Economic Planning; and Sports and Culture as not having processed any documents through the system throughout the year.

Where the system was used, the level of utilisation was still low at the time of audit.

“There are concerns over lack of value for money in the investment made by government entities in IT systems,” reads the report.

In another project, a tourism boat was acquired at Rwf308 million in 2008 but has remained grounded since May 2011, because it requires significant expenditure on repairs and procurement of a new engine to get it back into operation.

“There is need to come up with concrete measures to address these concerns,” said Karenzi.

However, Francis Gatare, the chief executive of RDB, told The New Times that they have since built in-house capacity to carry out comprehensive project studies and thorough analysis of proposals that are either made or proposed to government as well as address other concerns to ensure proper utilisation of resources.

“We feel that we are in better position now to ensure proper value for money on projects that government enters into. A new team has been instituted in the Special Investments Unit, which is competent in legal, technical negotiation and project study related matters,” Gatare said.

The fairly new investment study unit, which has now existed for about a year, followed realisation that the capacities that existed in many government systems needed to be consolidated, Gatare said.

The AG reported persistent weaknesses in preparation of financial statements and errors, which resulted into high level of wasteful, unauthorised and irregular expenditure totaling Rwf3 billion in various public institutions.

Gaps were also reported in management of government assets that resulted in stolen assets worth Rwf660 million and idle assets worth Rwf1 billion.

The report recommended that a detailed review of information technology investments be undertaken to facilitate efficient acquisition and utilisation of systems in public entities across the country.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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