Rwanda News Agency Grands Lacs Hebdo

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Government auditor needs $2 million to do her job

Kigali: In the firing line from Parliament over delays to present spending reports and the small scope that the reports cover - as tax payers’ money disappears unnoticed, government says in four years that should be no more, RNA reports.   

As part of the plan to ‘reduce fiscal waste, and enhances value for money’, government – in a new strategy – just made public - wants to tighten controls on accountability by improving operation of institutions like the Auditor General.

In March, the Auditor General Ms. Evelyn Kamagaju released her much awaited report indicating Rwf 5.3 billion ($9.7 million) was unaccounted for during the fiscal year 2006. Government bodies that were audited awarded tenders worth some Rwf 3.8 billion ($ 7 million) without the approval of the National Tender Board.      

The report released eight months behind schedule, found out that tenders valued at over Rwf 7.8 billion ($14.2 million) were sanctioned without proof that they were approved by internal tender committees.

However, Lawmakers were not impressed. This was just another report that she was releasing after pressure. Parliamentarians have often demanded answers as why it has to take too long for the Auditor General to put officials to task over their spending.  

In the March session, Ms. Kamagaju told Lawmakers that her office needed a revamp with more and skilled staff. She also attributed the delay to institutions that have no documentary evidence when accounting for monies – thereby making her work ‘difficult’.

Now in a new policy paper - the ‘Public Financial Management’ – or PFM - strategy, government is to put her office into order. Between 2008 and 2012, an audit law is to be enacted that will completely restructure the office.  

It will also be equipped with the necessary technical expertise – all aimed to increase audit coverage and scope. This essentially means the Auditor General will have no room to complain of staff insufficient for her delays and narrow reports.  

By the end of the reform plan estimated to cost some $2.15 million (Rwf 1.5 billion), the Auditor General should be able to audit 80% of expenditures by ministries, departments and agencies. The office should cover at least 70 percent of all sub national government operations.    

Reform of the office of the Auditor General is just one among 10 components that the Ministry of Finance says will go a long way to ‘improving the efficiency of spending’ of the whole government machinery.

“By promoting transparency and enhancing governance, a more effective PFM system reduces fiscal waste, and enhances value for money, and makes all stakeholders more assured that budget support is used for its intended purposes”, the paper notes.

During the last meeting with its reluctant partners, government called on all to channel their support through its coffers. Fifty-four percent (54) of the $1.2 billion budget for this year will come from donors.

Some including Belgium, Sweden, German and The Netherlands have complied following up on Britain, the World Bank, the European Commission and the UN. The U.S. remains not convinced. Last year, the United States channels all its $167 through various projects.

In the four-year plan, government says the changes should result into fiscal discipline and sustainable budget balance; strategic allocation of resources; and efficient use of the resources in service delivery to the country.

“The PFM Reform Strategy will be instrumental in the fight against misuse and wasteful public spending, and in reducing/eliminating opportunities for corruption” according to the paper that lays out a total budget requirement of $28 million.

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