The Justice ministry is currently working on a legal framework to plug gaps that have seen millions of taxpayers’ money diverted.
Addressing a meeting of legal officers from public entities last week, Justice minister and Attorney-General Johnston Busingye said there was a gap in the current legal regime which lead to loss of public resources.
Cases ranging from mismanagement of public funds and illegal dismissal of public servants, to poor management of contracts are some of the examples that continue to lead to losses of public funds.
According to a recent report by the Auditor-General, in the Financial Year 2014/15, at least 77 contracts involving Rwf126 billion were delayed or work was simply not carried out by the contractors.
The report shows that government lost lawsuits at the rate of 75 per cent between 2012 and 2015, with at least Rwf524 million paid in compensation to the appellants.
The 154 lawsuits since 2012, according to the report, involved 51 public institutions, local governments and ministries.
“We are busy on this road and can promise the public that we are aware of all these things that are going on, we are reviewing a number of laws, the criminal procedure, civil procedure, the competence of courts, the Ombudsman’s laws, whistleblower’s law, control of corruption law and the penal code,” said Minister Busingye.
He urged all the public institutions to make good use of lawyers since many of the problems are attributed to not following lawful procedure.
The 14th National Leadership Retreat recommended the streamlining of the way contracts are drafted and managed between the Government and private operators, holding accountable those responsible for causing losses to government, finalising recovery of embezzled funds from those who were found guilty and prosecuting apprehended suspects.
It all starts with the way a contract is managed and executed, Busingye said.
“With a good contract, it becomes hard to lose money even when the contractor turns out to be bad, the least he will do is, say, ‘abandon the project or delay to deliver’ but government will at least not lose money,” he said.
He said a good contract will enable government to go to court and win damages in case the contractor reneges on their obligations.
Adeline Nyiransengimana, the Kamonyi District legal advisor, said nowadays counsel by legal attorneys in public entities is respected unlike before but challenges remain because they are left out during negotiations of some contracts.
“We need to fully involve legal attorneys in all these activities,” she said.