When a finance ministry delegation appeared on Monday before the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), it had no substantive response as to why development projects worth hundreds of billions remain on paper.
The finance minister Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana with his two deputies, Dr. Uwera Claudine and Richard Tusabe dodged the session. They sent INGABIRE Marie Ange, the Chief Budget Manager at the ministry to face the MPs.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning is mandated by law to monitor the execution of the national budget through the follow-up of programs and projects implemented by all Central and Local Government entities. Since its the one that controls the national treasury, finance officials are expected to have a tab on all government operations.
In PAC though, all that the junior official could tell the lawmakers was; ‘We are going to put more effort to rectify areas that are lagging behind’ (Tugiye kwikubita agashyi dukosore ahari intege nkeya’).
“Tugiye kwikubita agashyi” is the common line of defense government officials have mastered when in any situation where they are being questioned over a project. Even with President Paul Kagame, officials put on spot will usually give him the same line, often adding an apology.
PAC has for past weeks been reviewing report of the country’s Auditor General released in June. In it, as The Chronicles has widely serialised previously, the AG looked into 30 mega government projects worth nearly Rwf 1.4trillion (US$1.4b).
The audit report details each project, cost, source of the funding, rate of implementation and what the line agency says about the state of affairs.
Most of the projects have never been implemented, despite the money being available.
The reasons which line agencies give for low execution rate include; delays in finalizing preliminary activities required, delays in procurement both from government and donors side, and unexpected changes to the initial designs for some projects.
The AG highlighted several risks involved as government projects delay;-
• Failure to execute projects funded by borrowings within the specified period in the agreement, increases commitment charges on undrawn funds.
• Grants not used according to the agreement could be taken back by the donor and require additional funds to the Government to fund the abandoned projects
• Delayed implementation of development projects also [leads to] delayed service delivery to the beneficiary communities.
Below is full list of the delayed projects: