Budget managers to appear before PAC

The recently instituted parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will summon over 100 chief budget managers from all public institutions in the country. They will include all Permanent Secretaries of all ministries. PAC members arrived at the decision when they met with senior officials from the finance department, to dissect the Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2009/10.
Finance Minister John Rwangombwa (L)  with PAC chairman Hon. Juvenal Nkusi during the PAC meeting. MPs seek to summon all budget officers. The New Times/ John Mbanda.
Finance Minister John Rwangombwa (L) with PAC chairman Hon. Juvenal Nkusi during the PAC meeting. MPs seek to summon all budget officers. The New Times/ John Mbanda.

The recently instituted parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will summon over 100 chief budget managers from all public institutions in the country.

They will include all Permanent Secretaries of all ministries.

PAC members arrived at the decision when they met with senior officials from the finance department, to dissect the Auditor General’s report for the financial year 2009/10.

Over Rwf 6 billion was reportedly unaccounted for in various public entities this year.

Absolving a lack of capacity, the lawmakers blamed lack of seriousness and negligence by bureaucrats, particularly among budget managers and accounting officers in public institutions as the cause of problems.

The 2009/10 report highlights weaknesses in the preparation of financial statements where MPs noted that issues such as omission of receivables and payables, omitted bank accounts and balances, errors in books of account, unexplained differences in opening balances and lack of approval of adjusting entries, in financial statements.

Others include differences between balances in consolidated financial statements and those in financial statements of individual budget agencies and unreconciled inter-entity transactions in public institutions, among others.

The report further urges chief budget managers to change their way of operating.

Starting November 22, about 118 chief budget managers will begin appearing before the committee for grilling, as MPs seek to rectify the situation.

They also called for tough and realistic measures to enable those responsible to feel the gravity of the matter.

Jean Baptiste Musemakweli, a member of PAC, noted that most of the mistakes observed are the kind no one expects to be done by those involved in “business as usual”.

“The debit and credit statements of accounts are common, which anyone who has spent a year somewhere signing vouchers and other things knows as a principle,” Musemakweli said.

MP Marie Claire Ingabire noted that capacity-related problems have always been blamed for the hitches, in the past, noting that it is difficult for PAC to explain the issue of capacity to Parliament.

Like others, Ingabire supported the idea that chief budget managers appear before the committee to explain why things are not done properly.

“People must look at the real cause of the problem and find lasting solutions. Let the issue of less capacity be noted as a problem, but note also that when negligence comes into play, things get worse,” Ingabire said.

Noting that even the capacity of Rwanda Public Procurement Authority’s should be looked into, PAC Chairperson, Juvenal Nkusi, stressed that it is high time chief budget managers “got the conscience to take things seriously”.

Nkusi advised that measures should be taken to ensure that concerned bureaucrats show responsibility and commitment to their work.

Without mentioning names, Nkusi said it was wrong for a district to be listed as a top performer yet the AG’s report shows it is doing poorly in terms of financial management.

The meeting attracted among others, the Finance Minister John Rwangombwa, Auditor General, Obadiah Biraro and the head of RPPA, Augustus Seminega.

Rwangombwa admitted he shared the worry over the problem of lack of seriousness, negligence, and even possibly lack of will to do things as required, but reiterated that significant progress is being made.

The minister noted that the problem is also related to a lack of the culture of accountability and reporting that previously existed in the country.

Giving an example on non-supported expenditures that often appear in the AG’s report, Rwangombwa noted that “most mistakes are due to negligence” instead of lack of knowledge or capacity.

The session agreed that pressure be mounted on budget managers and their staff to rectify anomalies highlighted in the budget report.

Ends

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