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Senators call for financial autonomy at the sector level

Senators have called for amendment of decentralisation laws, with view to give some non-budget agencies financial and administrative autonomy to deal with persisting financial errors as indicated in year-on-year reports of the Auditor-General.

Senators have called for amendment of decentralisation laws, with view to give some non-budget agencies financial and administrative autonomy to deal with persisting financial errors as indicated in year-on-year reports of the Auditor-General.

This emerged as the Senate plenary last week was reviewing the 2014/15 AG report after it was assessed by the senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finances.

 

Among the suggestions was to call for financial autonomy for some of the non-budget agencies (NBAs), specifically local government sectors, which have been posting consistent financial errors due to minimal supervision by districts.

 

According to the law, NBAs are required to prepare accountability reports and submit them to the districts.

 

“However, there was no evidence of adequate follow up done to verify the accountability reports NBAs submit.

The AG stated that adjustments passed on the opening balances of some NBAs were not documented to justify their rationale.

“This was noted in Ruhango, Bugesera, Rutsiro, Gicumbi, Gisagara, Muhanga, Nyagatare, Nyamasheke, Nyanza, Nyaruguru, Rwamagana and Nyarugenge Districts,” the AG report reads in part.

The senators, whilst not conclusive on what government should do – since the projected resolutions will be issued by the Public Accounts Committee – decided to look into what can be done at the Senate level to increase public financial mechanisms.

“We will need to find out what is best that we can do to avoid these mistakes because they keep recurring as if nothing is being done,” said Senator Marie Claire Mukasine, who proposed Senate will need to outline a number of in-house resolutions.

While many called for summons of public officials to weigh in on how best to check the anomalies, others called for reviews of some decentralisation law, to promote accountability.

Senator Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo said while sectors have been involved in mismanagement, they are answerable to districts, adding that it was time the Government granted them financial and administrative autonomy.

“It had been suggested to add additional staff, but such a move means more manpower. I think it would serve us best if we look at it from a legislative perspective and changed laws to give sectors financial autonomy,” he said.

The senators resolved that the issue be finalised later after meeting with public officials on the way forward.

The senatorial committee that scrutinised the report also expressed concerns on a number of other issues, including non-observation of the AG recommendations, powerless boards of some big enterprises, deliberate failure to observe terms of references by contracted firms, among others.

The 2014/15 AG report had showed a steady growth of public entities which got unqualified opinion by the Auditor-General but decried slow implementation of the AG’s recommendations in relation to management of public funds.

Among the 157 audited public entities, only 50 per cent recorded a clean audit opinion, having relatively improved from last year’s 36 per cent, a performance AG Obadiah Biraro said had “no excuse whatsoever not to make 100 per cent.”

The report said transactions involving Rwf12.7 billion lacked supporting documents, Rwf3.8 billion had incomplete documents, while Rwf1.7 billion was classified as wasteful expenditure.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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