For the first time, the regime will publish annual financial balance sheets of the general government and state-owned enterprises which are presently shrouded in secrecy.
By David Himbara
In countries of law, government financial reporting is a standard process whereby public institutions report their financial position and activities to the taxpayers. These reports are the means by which citizens, oversight bodies, and other stakeholders judge their government’s efficiency, effectiveness, and overall financial condition. In Rwanda which is run by General Paul Kagame as personal property, taxpayers remain in dark. This is about to change. Rwanda’s public institutions will soon report their financial position and activities to the taxpayers, per government’s pledge to the International Monetary Fund.
General Paul Kagame controls the Rwandan state across the three branches of government with an iron fist. Article 112 of the 2015 Rwandan constitution gives Kagame the powers of the “establishment and determination of responsibilities of services in the Office of the President, the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies, and in the Supreme Court.” The president appoints and dismisses public servants all the way from Chief Justice down to clerks of parliament. With such totalitarian powers, there is hardly any incentive to run the Rwandan state transparently. Governmental institutions and state-owned enterprises do not report their financial position and activities to the taxpayers. The finances of the general government and state-owned enterprises are presently shrouded in secrecy. This is about to change.
In its Letter of Intent to the International Monetary Fund, and the accompanying Program Statement dated June 25, 2021, the Kagame government made important pledges. It informed the IMF that “We will continue to take further steps towards shoring up our financial risk management capacity and oversight.” The following measures will be implemented in the next two years:
- The government will clean up the backlog of unaudited Financial Statements for 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 for state-owned enterprises. All SOEs will publish their annual financial statements and provide forecasts of their income statements and balance sheets by the end of May 2022.
- The government will start disseminating annual historical data spanning 2016/2017–2019/2020 on consolidated government finance statistics for the general government and state-owned enterprises by the end of December 2021. The government will publish the series every year thereafter.
- The government will publish by the end of December 2022 annual financial balance sheets for the general government.
- The Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) which has been granted autonomy will publish by the end of December 2022 annual financial balance sheets. The government says it is “committed to the transparency and sustainability of RSSB’s finances.”
Here is a regime pledging transparency and accountability to the International Monetary Fund instead of addressing the people of Rwanda who employ Kagame and his cabinet. Be that it may, this is a start. For the first time, the regime will no long hoard the information on how it is using taxpayers’ money and foreign aid. Stay tuned.