By The Rwandan Economist
The auditor general of state finance recently was in the parliament premises to present the annual report on the state of the audit carried out and the general conclusion was that this year unjustified expenses decreased from 8.6 billion to 5.7 billion compared the financial years of 2018-2019-2020; achievement which deserves to be encouraged. However, the not yet responded issue is where were gone those amounts unduly embezzled and the fate of the real authors of such an economic crime. The present article analyses the legal and economic involvements of such an event which received approval of parliament members.
In line with article 166 of the Rwandan constitution, the report was tabled before both chambers of parliament. The report presents the AG’s findings and respective recommendations on matters which were identified during the execution of Financial, Compliance, Performance, IT and Special audits conducted during the period from May 2020 to June 2020. The focus for the audits was on high risk entities and those that implement programs that are of national importance. Those include; 5 GBEs (RSSB, WASAC, BDF, SGF &RPC Ltd) and 10 boards. Other entities audited include; twenty eight (28) local governments, sixty nine (69) projects, eleven (11) ministries, nineteen (19) central government entities and twenty-six (26) district hospitals. In addition, as it has been before, OAG participated in the audit of EAC and its organs.
Concluding the auditor general noted that even if the implementation of its previous recommendations have not yet reached 50%,the currentsituation testifies a significant reduction of unjustified expenses from 8.6of the financial year 2018/2019billion to 5.7 billion of the financial year 2019/2020while the institutions which strived to implement its recommendations attained 34%;others which are numerous still delaying at about 30%.
This report alleging the significant decrease of unjustified expenses motivates a series of criticisms; the outstanding are the following.
Public institutions including ministries, public entities are involved in the reports of OAG accused of having stolen millions of money given that they do not indicate activities which were carried out thanks to such amounts and their managers directly concerned are no longer worried. Reports are published and the parliament disapproves and complains and any prosecution is not initiated against the authors of such embezzlements of large scale impoverishing the country. On the contrary, civil servants of insignificant instances are arrested and detained for some thousands lacking and this judicial act is published urbi et orbi; poor people who offer 5 thousand to hungered traffic police officers are denounced with lauding radios and televisions while billions maliciously disappear in a perfect impunity.
2.3.Interference of higher public powers
According to an agent of the office of auditor general who interacted with us but wished to hide his name for his individual security, the office is no longer independent because the negative data they report are modified and revised downwards to protect the national image before Breton Wood institutions especially the International Monetary Fund which many rethink its relationships with the country and reduce aids and loans or reject Rwandan applications.
For this OAG staff who seemed more informed of what is decided in the institutions on the general management level given that he is from the serial, the high public powers including the RPF; intelligence service and other consultative services recommended that the OAG should rather review its reports because if the donors do not realize improvements in the management of public funds, they will be obliged to punish us by reducing or even refusing aids and long-term loans.
2.4.The real destination of the funds
These funds are not actually misappropriated by these denounced bodies; on the other hand, they are paid into the slush fund managed by the presidency as part of the defence; intelligence issues and business carried out by the head of state and his family. The reason why, there is not required any report which risks to unveil what must be kept top secret and who dares to unclose such transactions is dead.
2.5. The alleged justification: case of Covid-19 expenses
The government has informed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that all monies being spent on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has a separate account in the central bank. A financing item “COVID-19 response” was created under the chart of accounts for tracking crisis-related spending with a separate bank account under the treasury single account system to receive all contributions to the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP). Government has received loans and grants from the different places to aid the country’s return to normalcy as the pandemic hits the economy. More than 60% of the population lost entire livelihoods – leaving many to depend on direct food deliveries. So far, government has promised to ensure no single Franc is wasted. In its Rwanda update this January 4, the IMF says government has committed that pandemic-related expenditures will be audited by the Office of the Auditor General and published by May 2021.The IMF also says it asked Rwandan authorities to ensure “adequate transparency” about the ownership of the companies that have won the covid-related tenders. The IMF said: “This could be done by introducing a provision on beneficial ownership information from bidders as part of the tender for the public procurement process and make this information available on the government’s e-procurement website.”
Any report from Rwanda is politically based. Thus the publications of the Transparency International for Rwanda are prior blessed by the presidency to assess their impact on national and international level. Likewise, the OAG which has been reporting huge amounts embezzled but without any tangible effect as far as the reduction of such economic criminality and why not prosecution of authors of such crimes are concerned is from now on revisiting its functioning and effects of its reports. Understandably , it is not from its independent initiative.