The Parliament Accounts Committee (PAC) has tasked Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) to follow up on a new illegal culture where government officials borrow tender contracts for use in implementing other tenders.
This recommendation was sent out at a PAC hearing this September 23, 2021 in which Nyamagabe district was summoned to explain issues of non-compliance to the Auditor General’s reports for financial years 2019/2020.
In the hearing PAC revealed that the district couldn’t compose its own contract for Kaduha hospital and just went ahead to borrow another contract from another hospital, three districts across the southern province.
PAC MP Jean Damascene Murara showed the officials in Nyamagabe crossed from their district, through Huye, Ruhango, Muhanga to reach Rukoma hospital in Kamonyi district were they borrowed tender contract.
“Why is it that you cannot think and do things for yourself? So as to cross three districts in order to get a borrowed contract because you are too lazy to make one for yourself,” MP Murara asked.
District officials failed to explain conditions under which they borrowed another contract to implement two other totally unrelated supply and service tender and as to why they didn’t consult the line authorities to make such an illegal move.
Kaduha Hospital Director of Administration and Finance (DAF), Angelique Ahobantegeye said that they didn’t consult but were advised to do so by some colleagues internally.
“We are sorry but this won’t happen again,” she said.
PAC Chairperson Valens Muhakwa and his team were not convinced with the explanations and tasked the line authority (RPPA) to take action.
“This thing of borrowing contracts is becoming a culture a bad one indeed. The RPPA should take note of this and do an immediate follow it up. We cannot tolerate this culture,” Muhakwa said.
This tender borrowing habit is not new in the PAC news reported by KTPress over the years and similar reports were recent cited during committee hearings on other districts last week.
In Last year’s PAC hearing former PAC member, MP Alice Uwera Kayumba informed parliament that some district like Karongi didn’t provide report on these illegal tenders and also adopted a ‘bad habit’ of borrowing contracts (of similar natures) signed in other districts to implement development programs, of which MPs asked for an explanation.
In the Karongi case, it was discovered that they borrowed a service contract used in Musanze district for a street lighting job, and another from Nyamasheke district which was used in a printing staff identity cards and t-shirts.
“Tell us how and when did this program of borrowing used contracts copies started coming in,” Kayumba asked then with no proper answer offered but excuses.
The same borrowing of tender contracts was seen in Kirehe district during the 2020 hearing and more cases surfaced during this year’s hearings.
For instance, in the September 21, 2021 hearing it was disclosed that Nyagatare district borrowed a street lighting and maintenance contract from Huye district of which they too couldn’t explain why.
In Kayonza, the district officials borrowed a contract copy to supply fuel and garage services from Kiziguro hospital (in neighbouring Gatsibo district) to be used by Rwinkwavu hospital in Kayonza district.
Asked why so, the district Executive Secretary, Aaron Hero Kagaba had no answer but to say, “Sorry I ask to be excused.”
Using another contract to pay off another tender in itself is considered considered as single sourcing, illegal and penalized by the law on procurement 07/09/2018 article 188, which considers this as the act as illegal awarding of a tender.
The law provides for penalties from 5 to 7-year sentence and additional court fines slapped on a convict.
Responding to PAC request to follow up on this emerging tendency which Parliament has sighted as one of the new ways of intentional lack of due diligence in executing outlined tender procedures, RPPA said that something is going to be done as it may lead to corruption in a country that has taken a zero tolerance stand on corruption.
“This is a loophole in tender management which can result to corruption and bribery. We are going to write a new circular and guidelines to all districts reminding them,” said Arsene Nsabe, RPPA procurement specialist.
Possible Corruption in Unblacklisted Contractors
Nyamagabe and Nyabihu were also accused for not recommending black listing for enterprises which have failed to deliver on contracts.
For instance, Nyamagabe offered district offices construction contract worth Rwf788 million to Eteco & Anek in 2015 which has not been delivered as agreed but the district tender committee didn’t raise a red light to RPPA to have the contractor blacklisted till today.
The entrepreneur continues to enjoy more tenders and on top of their reputation fail to pay workers.
MP Germaine Mukabalisa questioned how comes that Nyabihu resurrected working with a contractor after years of disagreement and yet his track record of failure to deliver was not reported to RPPA for action.
“That means that you had time to sit and find an easy way of bringing him back for some hidden reasons that you didn’t want known if you had proposed a blacklisting,” Mukabalisa said.
In Rwamagana district, PAC found similar irregularities which can be a source of corruption where 12 tenders worth Rwf548 million were offered and not monthly report submitted in the e-procurement system at RPPA.
The district Executive Secretary, Henry Kakooza said that it was due to negligence and Covid-19 restrictions however PAC chairperson asked why he didn’t send the reports online as required by law but the official failed to explain.
The same was seen in Kayonza where they went on to ‘break’ procurement laws by offering 13 tenders without bidding and intentionally reducing the bidding security percentage from 10% to 5% after advertising the former.
“By hiking the security percentage this sacred off many bidders and we want to know the hidden motive if not corruption,” MP Mukabalisa asked.
PAC said that since the district lowered the percent in favour of bidders it means they recorded Rwf50 million instead of Rwf110 million in security guarantee.
Kagaba tried to explain that bidders had complained but the Assistant Auditor General, Patrick Habimana, RPPA and PAC said this is a lame excuse which calls for legal investigation into motive.