The government should move quickly to set up regulations that govern how ministries supervise different bodies that were formed as a result of merging different public institutions if they are to achieve their goals.
The call was made yesterday by senators after members of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Good Governance made a presentation about their assessment of the performance of government bodies that were formed as part of mergers of different parastatals.
The bodies assessed by the committee include the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), Rwanda Education Board (REB), Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA), Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB), and the University of Rwanda (UR).
On different occasions over the years since 2008 up to 2013, all the above institutions were formed as part of a merger of different institutions as the government sought to streamline their services.
Overall, members of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Good Governance found out that the bodies have since helped the government pull resources together, enable better planning for activities, and decentralise services.
But they also found that some of the bodies are faced with the lack of sound governance rules as there are no regulations that govern how their parent ministries go about doing it while others face dysfunctional governing boards.
“There are steps that have been taken in the way these institutions are working but their administrative structures need to be more refined,” said Senator Jean Nepomuscène Sindikubwabo, chairperson of the committee.
Members of the committee, who conducted their assessment from late February through early May 2016, found out that some members of the boards of directors for the institutions were too busy to carry out their work or were simply absent.
That situation has resulted in the executive officials of the bodies making some decisions that resulted in mistakes such as wasteful spending of public funds or simply ignored some obligations such as good management of the property inherited by the newly formed bodies.
On top of asking the government to ensure that members of the boards for the merged institutions are working effectively, they also recommended that the government should fast-track ministerial orders that govern how parent ministries for the bodies go about doing their work.
“It looks like merging the institutions to form new bodies was done before there were policies to govern them,” noted Senator Charles Uyisenga.
Senator Marie-Claire Mukasine agreed with Uyisenga, explaining that certain executive officials have been working under pressure to achieve results even if the rules and orders from members of their boards of directors or supervising ministers weren’t always forthcoming.
“Everyone wants things to work well but there doesn’t seem to be a clear structure on how to operate,” she said about the situation in certain institutions.
For example, the senators found out that there are no regulations to show how the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) goes about supervising REB, yet the ministry is the latter’s parent ministry.
They also recommended that the government consider setting up an independent body to serve the purpose of inspecting the quality of education and regularly provide a report to the public after assessing all the institutions in the education sector.
Other changes proposed by the legislators include turning the Medical Procurement and Production Division (MPPD) of the Rwanda Biomedical Centre into an independent government corporation in charge of procuring, selling, and producing drugs in Rwanda.
The Senate’s recommendations will be handed to the government as a contribution towards the improvement.