Lawmakers accuse EWSA of not heeding AG’s advice

Members of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have said the gross inefficiencies in the Energy, Water and Sanitation (EWSA) as cited in the 2012/2013 Auditor General’s report were partly because the utility ignored the latter’s recommendations.  
EWSA technicians fix a power line. The agency has been faulted for disrgarding AG’s past recommendations.  File.
EWSA technicians fix a power line. The agency has been faulted for disrgarding AG’s past recommendations. File.

Members of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have said the gross inefficiencies in the Energy, Water and Sanitation (EWSA) as cited in the 2012/2013 Auditor General’s report were partly because the utility ignored the latter’s recommendations.

In a report tabled before a plenary session on Thursday, the PAC members said most of the recommendations to EWSA in the 2011/2012 AG’s report were ignored, leading to an appalling rating in the subsequent report.

In his 2013/2014 report tabled before Parliament in May this year, Auditor General Obadiah Biraro, gave the national utility a ‘disclaimer opinion’ because of the gross errors discovered during the auditing exercise.

“The cases related to poor water and energy supply that were cited in the 2011/2012 report still came up in the current report. EWSA did not implement the recommendations by the Auditor General, leading to poor service and loss of public funds,” Juvenal Nkusi, the chairperson of PAC, told the plenary.

PAC findings were arrived at after an evaluation of the 2011/2012 AG’s report.

The report was specifically about the utility with members of the committee making countrywide trips to different EWSA outlets that had been said to have problems.

“Even during our trips, we witnessed a lot of inefficiencies in the places we visited, including management issues,” Nkusi said.

The AG’s report had at least 80 queries that were put to EWSA and have remained unanswered, with most of them related to mismanagement.

Part of the issues highlighted in the report include the purchase of $1.1 million (about Rwf745 million) Oracle software that remains non-operational despite EWSA’s continued remittance of Rwf90,000 annual license fee for it for the last five years.

Theoneste Karenzi, PAC vice chairperson, said EWSA loses at least 20 per cent of the energy generated and about 14 million cubic metres of water annually, among others.

The PAC report indicated that several energy projects including Nyabarongo (28 megawatts) and Kivuwatt, that was supposed to extract 25 megawatts from methane gas, remain incomplete yet the utility had vowed that power from the two projects would be on the grid by June this year.

“There are about four categories of water billing systems used by EWSA, and all of them contradict one another,” Nkusi said.

He added that the utility body has continued dragging its feet in implementing a Prime Minister’s decree that seeks to streamline management.

“There is a big problem in management. The institution management deals more with the Ministry for Infrastructure than it does with its own Board of Directors,” Nkusi said.

Even though the Board is fully constituted, it is yet to have decisive powers to run the utility as instructed by the decree, he said.

Earlier this year, while defending the poor performance of the utility body before the PAC, the EWSA management said most issues arise from the fact that they had no formal structure and strategic plan to guide their operations.

“Many issues are pegged on managerial framework. The management of EWSA failed to implement the structure and strategic plan at the onset,” reads the PAC report.

Way forward

The report says EWSA employees implicated in the mismanagement of funds should be brought to account as provided for in the national statute.

EWSA and the Ministry for Infrastructure were tasked to come up with an administration and a strategic plan within six months.

The outcomes of the strategic plan to be drawn will further guide the creation of two independent companies, with one in charge of energy, and another water and sanitation.

The Energy Holding Company will manage energy development and electricity distribution, while the Water and Sanitation Company will manage water resources and distribution, both in the rural and urban areas.

Ewsa reacts

Contacted yesterday, the EWSA Director General, Ntare Karitanyi, told The New Times that from the time he took over office (March 2013), they have registered a lot of improvement compared to the previous years.

“The AG took about six months auditing this organisation. It is true we have some issues indicated as in the report, but we are progressing,” he said by telephone, adding that all those who violated the law  have to be identified and held accountable.

Karitanyi said he expects further improvement in services offered by EWSA starting this financial year.

The head of Public Relations and Communications at  the Infrastructure ministry, Daniel Mulisa, told this paper that the ministry’s role is to constitute policies for EWSA, and make sure they are effectively implemented. He said the ministry has never usurped the powers of the Board of Directors.

“EWSA is an implementing agency. Internal decisions are handled by the Board of Directors. The ministry’s role is to  come up with policies and ensure that they are implemented,” he said yesterday.

He said they will give their view when their time to appear before PAC comes.

“All we need is to come up with policies that would eventually deliver quality services to Rwandans,” Mulisa said.

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