Senators call for increased accountability in local govt

Senators have concluded scrutiny of the 2013/14 Auditor-General’s report with a call to the government to help districts ensure proper accountability of their subordinate institutions.
Gasabo District headquarters. Senators want government to help districts enforce accountability. (File)
Gasabo District headquarters. Senators want government to help districts enforce accountability. (File)

Senators have concluded scrutiny of the 2013/14 Auditor-General’s report with a call to the government to help districts ensure proper accountability of their subordinate institutions.

The AG report was scrutinised by the senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance.

The senatorial committee recently expressed discontent over the reported wasteful expenditures and abnormal losses of public funds as raised by the previous AG report.

The senators’ analysis states that non-budget agencies (NBAs) – local government sectors, cells and health centres – needed adequate follow-up to verify the accountability reports submitted to districts.

Presenting the analysis of the report before a Plenary session, Senator Perrine Mukankusi, who chairs the committee, said the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning needs to find a suitable channel of accountability for these agencies.

“To reduce mismanagement and unauthorised expenditures by non-budget agencies at the lowest levels of government, the Ministry of Finance should help parent districts to establish suitable and credible channel to ensure non-budget agencies are fully accountable,” Mukankusi said.

‘Make NBAs fully-fledged’

Commenting on this recommendation, Senator Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo called on the government to find means for non-budget agencies to grow into fully-fledged budget agencies since they also indirectly account for quite a fair share of public funds.

“If districts cannot account for mismanagement done by their subordinates, then there is a need to help them turn into fully accountable public institutions,” Ntawukuliryayo said.

“The decentralisation system has been in place since 2002, the government should have found a way to have these small public entities grow into complete budget agencies.”

Public enterprises such as Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), the now defunct Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority; Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and Onatracom were also faulted over misuse of huge amounts of taxpayers’ money.

Senators recommended that RSSB revises its strategic plans, mostly on housing projects that initially should be built to benefit, among others, its loyal clients.

The senators had earlier raised concerns over RSSB housing projects with low or no occupancy rate, mostly for infrastructure that were built in remote areas, which are now lying idle.

While the report will be submitted to the National Public Prosecution Authority for further investigation on possible public fund abusers, Senators committed to carry-out extensive studies on more approaches to hold public enterprises more accountable.

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