For Online E-newspaper
The East African : March 31st 2014
12 MISAPPROPRIATION The EastAfrican NEWS MARCH 29 - APRIL 4, 2014 Utility fi≥m’s bosses in audit p≥obe By RODRIGUE RWIRAHIRA Special Correspondent OFFICIALS OF Rwanda’s Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) have appeared before a parliamentary committee over failure to produce a financial statement of the 2012 budget execution. The EWSA management cites numerous past reforms and inoperative software as the cause of their failure. The Auditor General Obadia Biraro told legislators that possible wasteful expenditure and embezzlement might have taken place. “We have seen around Rwandans at a genocide vigil at the Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali. Picture: Cyril Ndegeya Ministry, Fund on the spot over genocide survivors’ cash Ombudsman’s ≥epo≥t shows mo≥e than 2,800 su≥vivo≥s lack shelte≥ despite a gove≥nment allocation of $28.4m By EDMUND KAGIRE The East African T he Ministry of Local Government and the Fund for Genocide Survivors (Farg) are in the spotlight after money meant for the welfare of genocide survivors was misappropriated. The Minister of State at the Ministry of Local Government in charge of Social Affairs Alivera Mukabaramba, and the executive secretary of Farg Theophile Ruberangeyo were short of explanations as Members of Parliament sought to know how funds disappeared. The officials appeared be- fore parliament to respond to the findings of the Ombudsman’s report which showed that more than 2,800 genocide survivors do not have shelter yet FARG in its records indicates that they were given houses. Dr Mukabaramba said gov- ernment will look into the fund which over the years has been riddled by cases of gross mismanagement, but was quick to point out that the Ombudsman misrepresented figures. Dr Mukabaramba said the money the government had spent on housing since 1998 totals to Rwf21.9 billion ($32.3 million) and not the Rwf19.3 billion ($28.4 million) the Ombudsman’s report reflects. “We are not disputing the fact that funds have been mismanaged in FARG, but we are saying let us first have accurate figures. However, the government is aware and is working on resolving these issues. So far we have 4,000 houses which are near completion. Most vulnerable households will soon have their houses ready,” said the State Minister. According to the Ombudsman’s report, over Rwf86 million ($127,000) which was meant for houses for survivors cannot be accounted for. Another Rwf293 million ($432,000) meant for incomegenerating projects cannot be accounted for, while some Rwf130 million ($192,000) is missing from the accounts of the Fund. Another Rwf86 million ($126,000) was diverted into activities not related to what it was initially meant for. The Ombudsman’s report also revealed that Farg owes schools in nine districts arrears amounting to Rwf41 million ($ 60,000). Dr Mukabaramba, howev- er, disputed the figures saying that the Ombudsman’s report mixed them up, and urged the MPs to wait until the figures are corrected to know exactly how much was mismanaged. Investigations Investigations into the sur- vivors fund were commissioned by the Prime Minister last year after it emerged that hundreds of vulnerable genocide survivors still lived in appalling conditions, while about 2,800 survivors lacked proper shelter, despite the government allocating the Rwf19.3 billion to construct houses for them between 2012 and 2013. The report notes that about 5,709 houses were started but not completed. One hundred and fourty two completed houses were given EXPENDITURE Since its inception in 1998, the Fund for Genocide Survivors (Farg) has spent over Rwf170 billion ($251 million). Last year, it spend Rwf24 billion ($ 35.3 million). The fund is expected to spend Rwf27 billion ($39.8 million) this year. to wrong beneficiaries. Nine hundred and thirty houses handed to genocide survivors were wrongly sold to nonbeneficiaries. According to Jean Pierre Nkurunziza, the spokesperson of the Office of the Ombudsman, the findings were well researched and therefore accurate. “Whatever information we collected was verified. Anyone who challenges them should bring proof to show,” he said. But the deputy vice-chair- person of the political affairs committee Yvonne Uwayisenga said that the Ministry of Local Government should have the courtesy to present alternative figures rather than challenge the findings of another trusted government organ. “I think both Minaloc and Farg should be telling us what they are going to do to resolve the issues that have been raised,” she said. A water technician inspects Rwanda’s Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority’s water distribution pipes in Eastern Province. Picture: Cyril Ndegeya Rwf 33 billion ($48.8 million) unsupported cash in suspense accounts, whose origin we don’t know; the dormant software also gives no value for money,” Mr Biraro told MPs. Among 80 queries pre- sented by the audit report, was the purchase of the Oracle software for financial management which was inoperative, and failed to produce a reconciled financial report of the company. The expensive computer application which was supposed to analyse data of the company’s assets, billing process and procurement, and check of stock balances, was equally faulted for having caused a Rwf 3.6 billion ($5.3 million) negative balance on the company’s balance sheet. The internationally recognised software was bought at $1.1 million in 2009, with a $98,000 annual renewal fee. The parliamentary com- mittee heard that the two companies hired to configure and install the software failed to abide by the contract terms of reference which resulted in zero output of the software. “Do you still buy licenses even if nobody in your institution has mastered the usage and practicability of the software? That is a clear waste of money,” said Théoneste Karenzi, the deputy chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee. In their defence, authori- ties in the energy company attributed failure of the software to lack of skills by staff, although the company contracted to install it was also supposed to train EWSA’s workers. Legislators believe a lot remains at stake following the mistakes arising from the software procurement, process. “The first company was to execute the project within six months; but you have extended the period and given it to a second contractor who made no difference,” said Juvenal Nkusi, adding that first company’s contract had expired but EWSA kept giving it more tasks to execute. EWSA officials in charge of procurement and ICT said that a number of complaints were lodged to the management of the contracted companies but a solution had not been reached. EWSA’s director-general Ntare Karitanyi, assured lawmakers of changes in the firm’s handling of such matters. “Indeed, the shortfalls of the Oracle rollout raises critical issues on EWSA’s financial management system, and we need to do a complete engineering of the programme for future use,” said Mr Karitanyi. It might take a little long- er for the EWSA to produce a clean audit report as the company is yet to restructure after lawmakers voted that it be split into two separate entities — the Energy Holding Company and Water and Sanitation Company, in order to improve efficiency. The legislators proposed that the two firms be commercial-driven.
March 24th 2014
April 7th 2014