More government officials could be prosecuted over mismanagement of funds meant for major development projects, the Parliament Accounts Committee (PAC) has said.
This comes after the PAC, on Tuesday, discovered several administrative offences in contract management of developmental projects and failures to follow up on project execution which left some districts incurring major losses instead of getting value for money invested.
In Muhanga district, whose town is one of the six secondary cities, parliamentary committee pinned district officials over mismanagement of major development projects in which the district invested millions but was not able to follow up on its dividends and developments as a result of poor memorandums signed.
For instance, PAC findings from the Office of the Auditor General’s Report 2017/18, discovered that in construction of a two-phase district workshop market ‘agaciriro’, the district paid more money – Rwf351m (to two contractors) instead of Rwf239m that was supposed to be used initially.
District officials fumbled with explaining how an extra cost of Rwf112m came to be, yet the first contractor (NJB ltd) abandoned the job mid-way with a payment of Rwf181m), saying that he has since been taken to court on top of being blacklisted since he had done the same in Bugesera district.
“The contractor abandoned work and thus the insurer (radiant) refused to pay us the remainder on grounds that it was not used in the first phase. We asked that this person gets blacklisted after this incident after we found out that he had done the same in other places,” said Innocent Kayiranga, the acting Mayor of Muhanga.
To cover this shortage, the district officials said they had to ask an extra Rwf169million from the finance ministry to pay the second contract (Reserve Force) to complete the job, however, PAC members said that someone must take responsibility for each penny wasted.
PAC also said that similar action will be taken on Kibangu-Nyabinoni road project in which Muhanga district paid M Jabo Ltd Rwf540 million (74%) of the Rwf720 million after 90% of work done yet work was abandoned with about five bridges uncompleted.
District officials explained they tried to explain that they withheld Rwf30 million (5%) of the contract money and the case was also taken to court, but PAC said people need to be held to account since they should have been smart enough not to pay a sum that risked abandonment of work.
“For this case too, someone has to be answerable for the risks in this sum of money unless you say that engineers don’t know their work. We are opening a case on this issue immediately,” said Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze the PAC chairman.
This year’s PAC hearing which ends Wednesday focused on 60 districts and government business entities which didn’t make a 60% mark point pass in implementation of the OAGs’ recommendations, with most of them getting an adverse opinion ( to mean worst managerial efforts).
During the Tuesday PAC hearing, issues in Karongi district resurfaced again especially the Rwf1.5billion Karongi cross border market project with substandard structures and on a hospital facility which was refurbished by a contractor at Rwf1.4 billion and an extra Rwf140 million paid on the initial budget, but when the facility was provisionally handed over it had leaking roofs.
District officials said that they asked the contractor (Enterprise Rubare Josias) to correct the structural errors but he refused and instead sued the district for compensation of Rwf220 million for delaying to respond to his letter request the handover within the legal 21 days.
“We saw the defaults after one year of the guarantee period, and when we raised the issue, the contractor refused to correct them. This case has gone to court because the contractor was not given a response in time,” said district Engineer Jean Damascene Hanyurwimana said.
Hanyurwimana also revealed he and other staff are now appearing in the court over the case but that the project failure was because the former mayor (François Ndayisaba) removed him from the project monitoring team.
Ex-Karongi Mayor Ndayisaba explained that he after police raised concerns over the leaking structures, he, with the help of top government authorities tried to engage the contractor in vain but the hospital continued to function under such circumstances.
Assistant Auditor General, Patrick Habimana said that such cases cause the government to lose money twice yet there is no accountability taken by officials. “We pay theses engineers, contractor and supervision in such projects, and now we are forced to pay more than Rwf500 million to complete a hospital project, with no accountability!”
In this view, MP Jean d’Arc Uwimanimpaye called for an investigation into the case with each one involved so that the loss made can be held accountable, a view that was fully backed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government.
The OAG report shows that close to Rwf260 billion was mismanaged in 2015/16, and in the last five year 999 government officials have been prosecuted, 270 convicted for Rwf4.2 billion and over Rwf3.8 billion recovered but 625 of the accused have voluntarily returned at least Rwf999.8 million plus $9,100 and €3,225
Appearing on KT Radio’s talk show “Ubyumva Ute” held Tuesday to discuss deeply about PAC hearings this year, Apollinaire Mupiganyi, the Executive Secretary of Transparency International –Rwanda said that though the recovery is a good sign there is need for more efforts to recover more funds and pursue culprits.