If there is one hair raiser situation that senior government officials dread to face is being summoned by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the government’s financial watchdog.
Most of the time, the summons emanate from the Auditor General’s annual report. It is scrutinised by Parliament which decides whether individuals should appear before PAC to give supplementary information.
Right now, 22 institutions are facing the music and will have to come up with convincing answers. The complexity of the inquiries and daunting task facing PAC is best described by the case of Rwanda Energy Group (REG).
It has undergone too many restructurings and renaming that very few people can tell the difference between Energy Development Company Ltd (EDCL) and Energy Utility Corporation Ltd (EUCL), REG’s subsidiaries.
REG on its part – together with its former sister corporation, Water and Sanitation Corporation Ltd (WASAC) – are offshoots of what used to be called Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA), formerly known as Electrogaz.
All those changes in one institution in so short a time could partly be the source of the confusion and financial mix-up. PAC seems to be thinking in a similar direction and has ordered a comprehensive audit to unravel the mystery behind the whole confusion.
Since some of the issues cropping up are said to have been inherited from Electrogaz, PAC’s decision should be commended. But the whole issue of Electrogaz and its successors should serve as an example of not taking restructuring lightly. It is all done to improve efficiency and productivity, so due diligence should be exercised all along the way. It would save the Auditor General and PAC a lot of pain and time.
Still, restructuring should not be an excuse to break the rules. Accountability should be upheld all the time.