The Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, yesterday, set out before senior government officials new regulations and measures designed to correct the irregularities highlighted in the Auditor General’s 2010 report.
The Premier summoned ministers, permanent secretaries, governors, mayors and senior staff in their financial departments to collectively draw strategies to put an end to any misappropriation of public funds.
“The government will not tolerate a situation where public funds cannot be accounted for. We are a government that is committed to serve its citizens and therefore cannot sit back and watch when public funds are not well managed,” Habumuremyi said.
Following the release of the 2010 Auditor General’s report that found significant flaws in public funds accountability, the PM summoned the officials to iron out over 20 accountability related flaws.
The meeting came at a time when the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has embarked on a process to bring to book all institutions cited as having irregularities in the report.
The Prime Minister told participants that the sole intention of the meeting was to agree on strategies to address the accountability defects so that Rwanda’s ambition to achieve a Clean Audit Report is realized.
He appreciated improvements made over the last five years, and emphasized that it was possible to do a lot better, referring to the country’s improved global ranking on the 2011 Corruption Perception Index as an example of the improvement.
“We cannot allow our increasingly good image in matters of public accountability and good governance to be soiled by behaviour we can avoid,” the Prime Minister said.
“And since I’m sure none of you is happy with the blame we bear by virtue of the failures the report brought up, let us all find lasting solutions and commit to implementing them.”
The Auditor General, Obadiah Biraro, presented to the audience the 2010 report, focusing on the 20 mostly repeated and cross cutting accountability errors, emphasising the need for government institutions to adopt a culture of clean audits and book keeping.
Biraro said that government institutions are close to achieving clean audit reports but there is a lot more to be done. He said there has been significant improvement citing the ministries of finance, agriculture, health and youth as some of the government bodies that produced clean audits.
While there has been a tremendous reduction in resource wastage and embezzlement, there is need for institutions to eliminate omitted liabilities and balances as well as accounts monitoring to ensure transparency in expenditure.
The Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga said that all the cases highlighted in the AG’s reports since 2007 have been followed up and dealt with accordingly and that all Budget officers and Permanent Secretaries have been summoned to answer where need be.
“We act on every case in the report. It doesn’t have to be prosecution, some cases are dealt with administratively and we only prosecute cases that are deemed criminal,” Ngoga said.
He, however, noted that the prosecution’s economic crimes department is challenged resources limitations because sometimes it has to follow cases when people have already left their positions or have been transferred.
“Our work is different from the Auditor General because he audits the present people while prosecution deals with individuals who could have left since crime is individual. Sometimes it is difficult to trace these people,” he said
Ngoga added that prosecution has completed 57 definitive cases which were forwarded to the AG for action, which may include attaching properties of the accused to recover the money.
Among other things, the Premier said government institutions should strengthen their internal audit units where by Accounting officers should receive regular and effective training, under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance.
Like the AG had earlier recommended, the PM said that government institutions should incorporate in their performance contracts implementation of the Auditor General’s recommendations and commit to achieve a Clean Audit Report soonest, among others.