RPPA calls for action against graft
The Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) has called for tough measures to crack down on officials who awarded tenders illegally as highlighted in the 2011/2012 Auditor General’s report, which reported that billions of public funds had been misappropriated.
The AG report, which was released last Friday, indicates that tenders worth about Rwf1.5 billion were awarded without going through tender committees, as is the norm with some entrepreneurs reportedly losing over Rwf39 million.
Other tenders amounting to about Rwf11.2 billion were also awarded without all legal documents while others amounting to Rwf46.2b and US$39,600, respectively, were awarded without any supporting documents.
The Director General of RPPA, Augustus Seminega, told The New Times that officials or entities responsible for the awarding of the said tenders should be held responsible.
“In some cases, it could be because of bad intentions, for an individual’s own benefit or incompetence of new employees, who have no experience. But all in all, those responsible should explain the circumstances; those entities that awarded them will have to answer,” said Seminega in a telephone interview.
The government has been losing billions of money over the years, especially through fraudulent tendering processes.
The National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) has, so far, dragged 342 civil servants to court for causing financial losses to government through fraud, illegal awarding of tenders and mismanagement of public assets.
“These officials, who are in the third category, were found to be beyond the level of being fined, which prompted NPPA to take them to court because of the gravity of their cases and the amount of money involved,” Seminega explained.
NPPA Inspector General, Jules Marius Ntete, who heads the Economic Crimes Unit, recently said the amount of money involving the 342 officials was “very high” compared to that recovered.
Over Rwf134.4 million was recovered through fines levied on officials for failing to account for the missing funds, unpaid taxes or stolen money, during the same period.
The AG’s reports for the period 2007 to 2009 show that Rwf 2.8 billion is yet to be accounted for.
The officials are part of 418 cases supposed to be investigated by NPPA, as indicated in the 2007 to 2010 Auditor General’s reports.
The officials cited include financial controllers, heads of state corporations and those in tender committees.
Normally, a tender winner is supposed to pay 3 per cent in taxes; but if they fail to do so, those awarding tenders are forced to pay it plus a maximum penalty of Rwf500, 000 per head on each case.
This method, which started last year, however, is done once. Thereafter, the official is dragged to court if the offence is repeated.
Other 75 suspects were convicted of stealing over Rwf383.6 million during the same period. Their sentences range between six months and eight years.
The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), early this year, tabled a report regarding the loss of Rwf 9.7 billion highlighted in the 2009/2010 Auditor General’s report.
Among the causes of the losses, according to the PAC report, was lack of timely reporting on the status of public funds, mismanagement of public assets and hidden bank accounts.
Meanwhile, a total of 111 cases are also yet to be settled while nine others that implicate military officials were sent to the military tribunal.
“But if some tenders were awarded illegally, there are other relevant bodies which will pursue that, including PAC itself,” said Seminega, whose docket, mainly, focuses on regulatory measures, monitoring and building capacity in public procurement entities.
He, however, disclosed that they would intensify training and sensitisation on proper procedures in the award of tenders.