ON THE SPOT: UR officials grilled over missing funds

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From L-R Pudence Rubingisa, Diane Karusisi and Phil Cotton the UR’s top officials

From L-R Pudence Rubingisa, Diane Karusisi and Phil Cotton the UR’s top officials.

The parliamentary public accounts (PAC) committee has raised the red flag on the questionable spending of about Rwf1.04billion paid in a Rwf3.8billion tender process for the construction of the proposed veterinary section at Umutara Polytechnic (UP) in Nyagatare district.

Now PAC says the money may have been illegally used because the concerned authorities failed to produce any documents to authenticate how the money was spent

The 18 month tender process signed in June 2014 ended without anything tangible constructed but a foundation (worth Rwf308) to the structure which has stalled ever since; according to a PAC report from the Office of the Auditor General’s (OAG) report of fiscal year 2013/2014.

The officials involved allegedly paid an upfront 20 percent and added another six percent and by three months to the end of the tender only the foundation was standing and the ‘ghost structure’ has since been covered with bushes.

“We don’t want administrative action because the time you were supposed to do so has passed. We want legal action and immediate follow up on the persons responsible” said Hon Juvenal Nkusi the PAC chairman during today’s hearing at parliament.

To the puzzle of parliamentarians, which set some into holding their foreheads in disarray, all this money was wasted and no one has been penalized in due process yet the suspects are there and some are still holding fatty jobs in UR.

“This is a stinky case of corruption and this case must be followed up immediately and quickly” Hon Nkusi said while shaking his head in disbelief.

National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) said that the Nyagatare case is already under the eye of investigators and the lawsuit has been submitted to court pending a full inquiry before trial of suspects involved in the above tender-which experts say was a result of corruption.

Antoine Kayira Nsengiyumva, the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) say that the list of people who should be prosecuted for intentional negligence by law, should include the tendered company, UR engineer on grounds, the tendering board and UR administration which released the funds.

Failure to take administrative action at UR has seen at least Rwf 1.6billion of unrecovered funds in students unpaid school fees, over Rwf49millions paid to UR account without evidence and using over Rwf59million to pay lawsuits in which the university was sued as a result of individual errors, and millions in expired unbanked cheque payments discovered three months after being signed.

This is coupled with un-reconciled funds and lack of follow up, for example a mismatch between money collected and the actual number of students on campus, delayed payment of teacher’s salaries and over time-which are extended to other fiscal years creating a difference of Rwf25m in salaries.

Members of the PAC committee and the OAG Obadie Biraro said that this gross negligence has been the main cause of the institution’s poor performance which has affected the students and the professors in the long run causing

The Deputy vice chancellor of UR (Academic Affairs and Research) Prof. Nelson Ijumba tried to defend the institution said that some of the mismanaged funds, lack of recording financial transactions and some unclaimed expired cheques was caused by a transition in the system to merge all the nine government universities under one.

He said that there is lack of training in using the accounting system which had been purchased by the government on a grant basis but MPs said this was no excuse to failure to act administratively on some of the mistakes.

“We are going to act on these mistakes on the administrative and legal areas. We are not going to do another audit on this” said Dr. Diane Karusisi, the UR vice chairperson board of governors without defending the accused.

“Do you have to wait for the OAG to come in order to take administrative actions? Have you lacked money for finance capacity building programs, if you claim it is a case of training staff on use of the new system” Hon Nkusi asked.

OAG Biraro said that this was a lame excuse and the root cause of the problems was negligence and reluctance to take appropriate action on staff, even when some of them could not provide supporting documents at the time of the audit.

The UR officials have also been tasked to come up with a concrete measure and action plan that will see these problems resolved immediately.





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