She’s hardly a month into office but the new Rwanda Development Board chief executive yesterday appeared before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee to answer questions related to how the institution spends taxpayers’ money.
Amb. Valentine Rugwabiza, who appeared alongside senior other RDB officials, including Clare Akamanzi, the chief operations officer and former acting CEO, was tasked to explain why the agency had not implemented previous Auditor General’s recommendations on financial management.
The 2011/12 Auditor General’s Report faulted RDB for effecting unplanned expenditure, circumventing tendering procedures, and failing to make all the necessary adjustments to ensure accountability as recommended by the AG.
Reacting to the MPs’ concerns, Rugwabiza promised that RDB would henceforth observe the highest standards of financial accountability, saying she had already made it clear to the staff.
“Proper management of resources will be as important as our core business. After looking at the (AG’s) report, I told my colleagues that it (financial accountability) was going to be part and parcel of their performance evaluation,” she told PAC members.
“We are going to evaluate our progress on a monthly basis. We must ensure significant improvement in this area,” added the former deputy director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
There must be value for money is whatever we do, that’s a prerequisite, she added.
Akamanzi, and Mark Nkurunziza, the Chief Financial Officer, also admitted that the concerns raised in the AG report were valid, concurring with the MPs and Rugwabiza that firm action must be taken internally to reverse the trend.
Evode Mushimire, the procurement manager; Emmanuel Nkurikiyimana, chief accountant; and Felix Siboniyo, finance manager appeared to engage in a blame game, which riled the MPs as well as Auditor General Obadiah Biraro.
Nkurikiyimana said posting errors were due to ‘lack of expertise’, while Siboniyo blamed the institution’s poor accounting and reporting systems on an old accounting software (Sage Pastel), which RDB still uses, yet most institutions had upgraded to the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) software.
However, MPs and the AG dismissed their explanations saying they hold no water.
Biraro talked of an institution that uses oracle accounting software, one of the most efficient and modern systems, but still “failed” miserably.
The AG argued that even though RDB should have discarded Sage Pastel software and gone for a better accounting system, the attempt to blame the system was a lame excuse because “a machine is a machine, it does not replace a human being”.
“You may even record finances by hand and achieve what you wanted. If yu know where you are going, then you know which route to take,” he said.
Biraro said accountants who failed to do their job, and resorted to blaming systems were only incompetent.
“RDB is known to have some of the most dynamic human capital (in the country). I refuse to accept justifications for incompetence or recklessness,” Biraro said.
PAC members were on their second day of hearings since the inauguration of the Third Chamber of Deputies a month ago.
RDB to address accountability concerns