The Prosecutor General’s office has forwarded a list of about 40 officials to the Prime Minister’s Office to face administrative and criminal charges for alleged misuse of public funds as highlighted in the 2011 Auditor General’s (AG) Report.
At the same time, 97 officials from various government institutions are under investigations for failure to present “clean audit reports” for the year 2012, Marius Ntete, the Inspector General, told The Sunday Times yesterday.
Last week, the Prime Minister Dr Pierre Damien Hubumuremyi called on concerned government organs to punish those implicated by the Auditor General’s report. This followed a Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) assessment of how far institutions had gone in implementing the AG’s recommendations.
The report identified lack of supporting documents, unauthorised expenditures, lack of proper reconciliation of opening balances and mainly failure to implement previous audit recommendations as some the weaknesses that needed to be addressed.
The AG reported that only 60 percent of his recommendations had been implemented. Of the 134 institutions audited, 37 had a clean audit report, while 97 (72 percent) failed the audit test in 2012.
However, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Stella Ford Mugabo, told The Sunday Times in a separate interview on Friday that although some audit issues remained, the government commends the progress made in the management of public funds.
“At the beginning, the Auditor General couldn’t even get books of accounts to audit since there were only a handful of qualified accounts. Today, we are doing better than many countries in Africa as the College of Finance continues to produce qualified personnel,” she said.
“The fact that we have an Auditor General ii itself is a something many countries around us do not have”.
Mugabo said the government was not putting much blame on the staff in as far as competence is concerned.
“We are really coming from very far when you consider previous reports, but the progress is commendable and for sure, we shall achieve more with time,” she assured. Her remarks echo those made by various institutions that cited lack of human resources, management systems and merging of institutions as reasons for persistent failure to produce clean audit reports.
Johnston Busingye, the Minister of Justice, also said the country was making a good progress, despite failure by some entities to respond to the AG’s recommendations.
He added that the Prime Minister had tasked his ministry and that of of Public Service and Labor, to refer to the law and decide what sanctions officials involved in non criminal errors in public fund management should face.
A report will be submitted to the PM office by tomorrow, Busingye said.
Institutions that were merged are among the most affected by accountability problems as they struggle to harmonize both the human resource and financial management. This was reported as the main problem in Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), a merger of ten institutions.
Andrew Makaka, the Director General of RBC, said he was not surprised by the fact that they did not have a clean audit.
“We merged everything, including the human resources. It is quite difficult to have a harmonized financial management system at the start,” he argued, adding that it might take RBC two to three years be on track.
Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS), the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), Rwanda Education Board (REB) and Rwanda Natural Resources Authority(RNRA) are some of the institutions that did not have clean audit reports.
John Rutayisire, REB Director General, blamed shortage of qualified staff for the failures. He said they would be sending officers most concerned with budget issues for further training.
But a senior official in the institution said that the high turnover of staff at the student loan financing department had also contributed to the accounting challenges.
Officials at the University of Rwanda, a recent merger of several institutions of higher learning, said that they expected problems with their accounts, pledging that audit errors will be avoided in future.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance, Prudence Ruzibiza, said: “We know we are merging, but merging does not cause a headache when you plan ahead”.