MPs in the Lower House have said the government needs to urgently follow up on potential cases of embezzlement and wasteful spending of public funds mentioned in the Auditor General’s 2016/2017 report and bring those who are responsible to account.
They made the call on Tuesday in a plenary session in which the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) presented its analysis of the report to the House.
The legislators decided that cases of poor management of public funds and possible corruption and embezzlement cited in the AG’s report need to be investigated by prosecution authority.
In a set of resolutions that the lawmakers decided to refine and submit to the government, they proposed to summon the Prime Minister to inform Parliament about the progress made in line with following up on the cases within the next six months.
The Chairperson of PAC, Juvenal Nkusi, said that the premier’s report is needed in order to ensure that the government will genuinely follow up on the cases.
“Everyone should be committed to finding solutions to these challenges. Let’s do our work and let those who are responsible appear before Parliament so they can explain how they are bringing those who committed these offences to account,” he said.
Among cases which the legislators want the government to follow up include cases of breach of tendering procedures in projects of public lighting in districts of Nyamagabe, Gatsibo, Nyanza, and Rusizi, following up on supervising companies that approved shoddy public works, as well as theft of money transferred from the Ministry of Health to University of Rwanda.
Questionable management of public funds should also be investigated at different institutions such as WASAC (former EWSA), RAB, Ministry of Agriculture, REB, and REG, among others, they say.
The AG’s report for 2015/16 showed serious cases of mismanagement of public funds, including a lack of value for money in different public expenditures due to persistent weaknesses in contract management and growing cases of idle assets worth billions bought by government entities.
The report also noted project absorption challenges that affect service delivery, among others.
Other issues include wasteful unauthorised, unsupported and fraudulent expenditure of public funds; concerns over corporate governance and financial management in the government’s business enterprises; as well as accounting and financial management concerns in government entities.
“There are many cases of irregularities that need action,” said MP Henriette Mukamurangwa Sebera.
MP Abbas Mukama agreed, saying that the law should take their course to curb cases of embezzlement and corruption.
“We should summon the Minister of Justice so he can respond on all of these issues. We have enacted laws against these offences and they should be applied so that those who are responsible can be held accountable,” he said.
Many MPs said that the Lower Chamber of Parliament should increase its efforts in exercising oversight of government’s activities to ensure that any malpractices are detected on time and stopped.
“We need to change our approach and start asking those who are responsible here in Parliament so they can explain these malpractices,” said MP Nura Nikuze.
The Chairperson of PAC said that the government needs to stop looking at cases of embezzlement and corruption in its institutions as mere mistakes and start treating them as crimes that should be prosecuted.
The Lower House’s decision to task government on investigating possible cases of corruption, Senate also decided, after analysing the AG report, that it will organise a high-level meeting that will bring together leaders in the central government and other stakeholders to discuss poor management of public funds.
The decision was made three weeks ago at a plenary session of the Upper Chamber of Parliament after senators concluded their analysis of the AG’s report.