Government officials are expected to appear before the Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to explain cases of public asset mismanagement raised by the Auditor General (AG).
The hearing will start September 5 to 23, 2022, inside the PAC room at the Parliamentary Building, and officials in 85 public institutions and 31 projects will be summoned to explain gaps in public expenditure as recorded by the Office of the AG for the fiscal year 2020/2021.
On May 13, 2022 the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) presented a state finances audit by the AG Alexis Kamuhire to a joint plenary sitting of both chambers (Deputies and Senate).
The audit report showed an increase (over the period of four years) in organs audited and held accountable by the OAG from 74 organs in the financial year 2017-2018 to 206 entities in the year 2020/2021.
The OAG report trend in financial audit opinions issued over the last three years showed that the percentage of entities that got unqualified financial opinion increased from 55% in 2019 to 57% in 2021.
Moreover, the percentage of entities that got qualified audit opinions increased from 30% in 2019 to 35% while the percentage of entities that got adverse opinions decreased from 15% in 2019 to 8% in 2021.
“This shows a positive trend in the overall level of accountability and transparency over the period,” the AG Kamuhire said in his presentation.
The report also showed that there was an improvement in the percentage of unqualified audit opinions which increased from 34% in 2019 to 39% in 2021.
Cross-cutting audit findings
Over the years, the OAG audits reported delayed projects with national significance and recommended actions that can be taken to address root causes as a means of deterring the re-occurrence of similar incidences in the future.
However, this anomaly persists.
For instance, in the current year’s audits, the OAG reported 37 cases of delayed contracts worth Rwf 201 billion in 28 public entities and projects.
This year, the report noted cases of abandoned projects and contracts which are on the rise compared to the last 3 years.
For example, the current year audits indicate eight (8) cases of abandoned contracts worth Rwf 965 billion identified in seven public entities.
The OAG said that this resulted in delays in completing government projects and denied government value for money through delivering expected services to citizens.
“Public entities should strengthen contract management processes and engage the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and development partners to sort out issues of availability of cash flow for key government projects implemented to realize the targets of NST1,” Kamuhire said back then.
The audit report also identified 11 projects worth Rwf 102.9 billion in nine (9) entities that had stalled and explained that contracts for these projects had been terminated due to non-performance, budget constraints, or delay in execution.
Kamuhire stated that as a result, entities did not fully realize the planned objectives, and the government did not obtain a return on investment in uncompleted works thus in collaboration with their line ministries, public entities should expeditiously devise means for resuming stalled projects to ensure they serve the intended purpose.
The audit also identified 88 cases of idle assets worth Rwf 37.2 billion which were lying idle in 49 public institutions. These comprise 54 new cases worth Rwf28.8 billion and 34 cases worth Rwf8.4billion noted in the last year’s audits.
The long-standing issue of fraud in audit reports also returned with follow-up audits during the year revealed that 61 cases of fraud highlighted in our previous audits were yet to be resolved and out of Rwf2.5 billion for all the cases, public entities had not recovered public resources fraudulently utilized totaling Rwf2.3 billion.
Sector specific Findings
Public entities that continue to return to PAC over gross mismanagement of public funds include Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), University of Rwanda (UR), Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC), Rwanda Energy Group (REG), and Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB).
The education, infrastructure, and health sectors retained a gross poor performance in general with most of the NST1 targets being delayed contrary to government ambitions.
For instance in education, though the government embarked on constructing classrooms (847 classrooms) across the country through Rwanda Quality Basic Education Project, the OAG showed that an excess number of pupils ranged from 10 to 78 pupils in 87 schools located in eleven (11) districts.
The report also showed insufficient books for pupils and teachers in schools, slow implementation of the Rwanda Quality Basic Education for Human Capacity Development project, and failures in the implementation of the smart classrooms program (worth Rwf 6.7 billion invested).