February 16, 2019

Criminal Network Conniving to Steal from Social Security Fund

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The Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) paid out more money than had been planned – a development the body suspects could be a result of a deliberate scheme by criminal network to steal taxpayer savings.

Figures released show that the Board had planned to spend Rwf 95billion for the whole year covering pension payments, health insurance coverage, and maternity leave scheme for mothers.

For the period from June-December 2018, the Board had planned for Rwf 47billion.

But a mid-year review conducted shows it has spent Rwf 54.2 billion – incurring Rwf 7.2billion extra expenses for the first half of the financial year.

Until recently, the Board was in charge of pensions. It now handles health insurance for government employees and the mutuelle health insurance for all ordinary Rwandans. It also pays pharmacies for medicines given to patients.

The Board is the mandated agency to collect individual contributions for health insurance – making it the custodian of billions of Francs.

The Board as well manages the maternity leave plan introduced last year under which all employers are require to submit a 0.3% deduction from all employees and also put 0.3% as the employer. This money is used to cover 100% payment for salary for mothers on maternity leave.

With such huge responsibilities, it means the Board has to pay out billions to all health facilities for services they offer to patients, cover benefits for retirees and keep pensions of the still-employed.  

The Director-General Richard Tusabe admitted to journalists on Friday February 15 that the Board had paid out more than it planned. He said they are yet to determine where and how the additional costs arose, but added that they suspect fraud.

“I can’t tell you how much we lost,” he said, adding, “But when you compare the number of beneficiaries we covered and the payments made, there is a big difference.”  

He added: “You wonder whether there was an epidemic that may have caused the unusual increment.”

Tusabe announced that a wide-ranging forensic audit had been launched to establish the culprits. The audit results will be released in three months.

It is not easy for pensioners to get more than they ought to have. The hole in the Board’s finances suggests it could have paid more for medicines and hospital consultations.

On a positive note however, the Board had hoped to receive Rwf 82 billion from members during the June-December 2018, but has Rwf 85billion in its coffers – beating the target at 105%.

The whole year, it has set a target of Rwf 163billion.

The Board also recorded a positive balance sheet from its investment portfolio.  

It had a target of earning Rwf 29 billion in six month from different investment projects such as real estate, bonds and share capital gains. It instead earned Rwf 32.5billion

However, the Director-General was at pains to explain a recent controversial plea made while appearing before Senators in January.

The chair of the RSSB Board of Directors Turahirwa Ephraim told lawmakers that they need to be permitted to hire employees of their choice.

Currently, all public service hiring is handled by the Public Service Commission.

The Board says it is unable to get the best talent which will enable it to eliminate the losses and poor performance repeatedly highlighted by the Auditor General.

Media reports at the time seemed to suggest that the Board’s leaders considered their current employees as incompetent.

Director-General Tusabe said on Friday that the message the top management was putting across during the Senate appearance was misunderstood.  

He said: “The staff is relatively well paid. However, we have cases where employees are skipping work twice a month to go for job interviews elsewhere. I would like to have secure employees. Then I push for maximum productivity.”

The most recent Auditor General report reviewing 2017, pointed to “cost over-runs” with the construction of the magnificent Vision City estate.

The plan was to spend Rwf 62,9billion on the project – but had incurred 23billion more.

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