The Government has announced plans of recruiting more district and hospital staff in the wake of the Parliament faulting district officials with lack of due diligence in duty which has led to poor service delivery.
These gaps were cited in the ongoing Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearings in which officials used the excuse of lack of sufficient staff as one of the reasons for failing to implement full project cycles- from feasibility studies, tendering and implementation.
Districts were also faulted for failing to submit obligatory monthly procurement reports to Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) which enables the authority to monitor and evaluate the projects through an existing e-procurement system.
When asked why this is not done, most district officials gave excuses of lack of staff and limitations of Covid-19 lockdown among others.
However, this was not taken in as PAC showed that there is an alternative of working and submitting reports online.
Such failure and gaps were noticed in most of the districts to an extent that PAC rebuked them for not being able to draw own tender contracts, give tender reports but resort to borrowing contract papers from other districts.
Among these are Nyagatare, Kayonza, Kirehe, Nyamagabe and Gicumbi districts to mention but a few as it is expected that more or similar findings will be unearthed along the PAC hearings.
In a Friday hearing, Bugesera district shocked MPs as it wrote in its management comments that there is no law or directive in the country that prohibits them from offering a tender without any bidding.
They were referring to a rapid schools construction contract they used as given by the ministry of education.
RPPA said that districts were either way asked to open the bidding and this was done except in Bugesera.
In the case of Gicumbi district hearing on September 24, the district Executive Secretary, Marie Scolastique Muyishimire and Jean Baptiste Tabaro the procurement officer, totally failed to explain how they reported all tenders but two.
Their excuse was that they forgot. They asked for pardon which Parliament didn’t buy either.
Gicumbi went ahead to offer a Rwf21million contract to an enterprise without negotiations.
To make matters worse the district tender committee had a divided vote over the said tender and the district heads went ahead to offer the tender even when RPPA had advised them to drop the tender.
The PAC Chairman MP Valens Muhakwa asked the local government, ministry of health to give a way forward on this issue with fears that if not addressed may become a bad culture in public accountability.
In response, the Director General (DG) Corporate Affairs in Ministry of Health Valens Ndonkeye told Parliament that there is no excuse for districts and hospitals borrowing tender contracts as it is illegal and contrary to outlined practices but alongside other ministries they are finding possible solutions to the queries raised by districts.
“We are planning to recruit more support staff in the districts and hospitals even though the process has been slow. By adding more staff in areas where there are under staffed, we will not see this excuse raised again,” Ndonkeye said during a PAC hearing Thursday September 23, 2021.
Ndonkeye committed to eliminate that new growing culture of borrowing tender contracts and revealed that new directives will be communicated to all districts and hospitals to abide by.
Arsene Nsabe, the Procurement Specialist at RPPA said that in the beginning, the issue of tender borrowing had been raised in trainings but they didn’t think it was a serious embedded crisis among procurement teams until it was surfaced in PAC hearings.
“It is now clear that this is a problem that is not only a bad practice but illegal,” Nsabe said.
Parliament tasked other line ministries to give a way forward on this issue especially on violation of tender procedures.
Richard Kubana, the DG Ministry of Local Government said they put out directives on reporting but now with new insights raised in PAC, they are going to lay a new strategy of monitoring all project cycles from procurement, tender and implementation.
Ministry of Justice official at PAC, Eric Ntwari told Parliament that these concerns will have to be looked into so as to have a clean public accountability among officials.