A new report by the Office of the Auditor-General has revealed that billions of taxpayers’ money continues to be spent on engagements that are then left idle. The 2015/16 AG report shows that public entities were in possession of idle assets worth Rwf15.2 billion – some unused for years.
The previous year, the AG reported finding Rwf7.9 billion worth of idle assets. The alarm has been sounded. This trend cannot be allowed to continue. The fact that the numbing issue has nearly doubled in just a year makes it even more straining to the economy. It doesn’t help that half of idle assets, worth Rwf5.8 billion, reported in previous annual report were still idle at the time of the latest audits.
The AG report attributed this negative trend to lack of proper needs assessment to inform their procurement.
Although procurement has never been a butter-on-bread affair, there should be a way to work around it so that only few isolated cases of idle assets ever come up. Rwf15 billion can help in the construction of three fully equipped health centres or even a district hospital. Compute such service to the asset and it shows just how much is being lost by the taxpayer.
Government should urgently look into ways to fix the gaps. Procurement officers and other managers in the line of ordering for assets in public entities need to be constantly inducted in how to avoid unnecessary expenditures.
Procurement officers also need to sit and rethink how they operate. Also, entities need to be allowed to be more open in disposal of assets. One asset might be idle in one agency yet another agency would be craving the same. Liaison would sort such cases out. Total disposal would also help curb wastage.