The Parliamentary Building.
Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has commended districts for improving compliance of the Auditor General’s organic but cited major loopholes in community development programs and financial (budget) management.
These areas of weakness such as; negligence of duty especially delivery of citizens based services, poor project planning and execution among major ones have been around for the last ten years and raised in previous PAC hearings.
At the 2021 PAC hearing on districts and hospital performance – September 17, chairperson MP Valens Muhakwa said that most of the weak areas can be rectified thus tasking line ministries- Health, Local Government and Finance, to directly monitor these areas if the value for tax payer’s money is to be realized in the next fiscal years.
KTPress looks at some of the districts and areas which compelled the parliament to reprimand ministries to take action.
In Ngororero, PAC said the district performance was not impressive coming below the required 60% and most of the issues were in financial and value for money and poor planning.
For instance, it had gaps in taxpayer’s database, budgeted and set target with Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) to collect total revenue ofRwf850 million.
Taxpayers’ database extracted from RRA revenue collection indicates that the system did not contain expected amounts to be collected from each tax/fee payer. Hence, the realistic budgeted revenue could not be confirmed.
It is worth noting that similar gaps were highlighted in the previous year audit but also to another extent the district lacked listing and failed to disclose outstanding arrears from previous non-payers (2017 and 2018 amounting to over Rwf114million.
Despite being a hilly district and officials using this as an excuse for not implementing road projects, PAC discovered that officials had irregularities in rehabilitating roads under the community development (VUP) program.
For instance, in Rwf67.6million community road rehabilitation of 14Km Hindiro –Burengo road in Hindiro sector for 5 months from April 2019 was found delayed 295 days and incomplete in a field visit in February 2020.
The district management revealed that the delay was caused by the exhaustion of budgeted materials to be used.
Huye district got a clean audit in compliance with AG’s comments however PAC cited issues in the mismanagement of key programs such as the school feeding program, tax management especially taking decisions that cost government tax losses.
For instance, in 2018 Huye authorities took a decision to exempt over 374m in immovable tax for 6600 out of 7700 citizens without explanation of reasons and when asked to explain why officials blamed it on Covid19.
However, MP Muhakwa insisted that Covid-19 is everywhere yet the same is not cited in other districts.
MP Germaine Mukabalisa said this will encourage other citizens to shift to Huye where they can get tax exemptions which conflicts with global requirements of tax declaration and tax havens and possible loopholes of bribery to be enlisted.
In January 2019, districts were requested by MINISANTE to open user fees bank account to accommodate funds transferred by health centers. Funds transferred are collected by Community Health workers from medical treatment they provide to the population in their area of coverage.
The tariff is a flat fee of Rwf200 for those who have community-Based Health Insurance (CHBI/Mutual Health Insurance) and Rwf500 for those without.
However, since 2019, Huye district had accumulated Rwf61million to their bank account with an opening balance of Rwf 57,3million (July 2019).
MPs were shocked to hear that the district is still waiting for directives from the ministry on how to use the money, yet by keeping this money for all two years some argued is a waste and denial of interest that could be accumulated.
District officials explained that this was done in the interest of citizens, but MPs questioned if the beneficiaries deserved it (as poor/ vulnerable) of which they couldn’t explain the categorization.
MP Beline Uwineza said that this decision is not new but the conflict is in procedure and temptation to have an unfair process of doing what is contrary to initial intent.
Gatsibo district was grilled on the continued delays in all key sectors. For instance in disbursing capitation funds for school feeding, a similar trait is seen in 80% of the districts.
Delayed supply of school equipment delivery yet contract ended two months ago, supply of medical equipment and Rwf104.3M for VUP payments not delivered for months among other quarries.
On top of that Gatsibo District signed 2 contracts with EPOS Company Ltd worth Rwf499,3 million for construction of 33 drying shelters in Ngarama, Gatsibo, Kageyo, and Nyagihanga sectors.
A provisional handover was done on 22 July 2020 and the contractor had been paid 99.92% (Rwf498.9M) of the 2 contracts at the time of audit in December 2020. However, a field visit showed the work done was substandard.
The district was also faulted on a Public lighting project in which they used the same price quotation for mental and wooden poles in the tender.