Cabinet resolutions calling for quick action in matters of national interest, like occurrence of disasters, should not be used as an excuse by bureaucrats to flout procurement procedures as it risks causing huge financial loss to government.
The warning was sounded, yesterday, by members of the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as they grilled over 25 procurement officials and budget managers in departments affiliated to the Ministry of Agriculture.
This was part of the ongoing marathon sessions where PAC members are questioning officials from various public institutions on their respective role in the loss of public funds that was cited in the 2009/10 Auditor General’s report.
An official from the Rwanda Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) particularly faced the wrath of MPs for flouting procurement procedures.
Joseph Akumuryango suggested that in cases of emergency, directives from cabinet resolutions may necessitate bending laws to achieve a common good.
PAC Chairperson, Juvenal Nkusi, dismissed the argument, noting that expediting procurement procedures in some special cases is acceptable, but that too must follow set regulations.
MP Thierry Karemera stressed that whatever the case, proper procedures – including approval by respective internal tender committees and the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA), must be adhered to.
The MPs advised procurement officials not to be influenced by their superiors to commit tendering mistakes.
“Do you use the law or do you only consider the directives from your immediate boss?” MP Jeane d’Arc Uwimanimpaye wanted to know.
The lawmaker warned that cases of emergency could be used as an excuse to swindle public funds, especially by hindering competition.
“How can we be sure that you are not using what the cabinet resolved as a pretext to go on and shortlist with the aim of serving personal interests?” she asked.
The AG’s report indicates that there are cases where institutions awarded tenders without any evidence of approval by internal tender committees or the RPPA.
It was also noted during the audits that tenders amounting to over Rwf 212 million were awarded without any evidence of approval by respective internal tender committees, while tenders worth over Rwf 1 billion were awarded without the approval of the RPPA.
MPs say that the procurement of unplanned items resulted in wastage of public resources.
Procedures require that tenders awarded under open competitive bidding (national tenders) should be advertised for 30 days. However, the AG’s audits identified cases where budget agencies limited this period of publication to less than the stipulated period.