Govt only able to recover Rwf600 million out of Rwf1.9 billion stolen public funds

Monday October 1 2018

Court

The government has been taken to court 543 times between June 2017 and June 2018 over breach of contracts. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

By LEONCE MUVUNYI
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The government has intensified efforts to curb corruption by introducing measures to track and recover assets from individuals and contractors involved in fraudulent activities following their failure to adhere to procurement laws.

Officials who have been indicted as corrupt will not only lose their property but will also be expected to pay back the lost funds.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that in the past financial year, the government only recovered about Rwf660 million of stolen public funds estimated at Rwf1.999 billion from individuals and contractors involved in fraudulent activities.

“We are still working with the telecommunication networks so that their communications channels will be cut off,” Johnston Busingye, the Minister of Justice told Rwanda Today.

During recent meetings with legal officers from public institutions Mr Busingye encouraged them to set up effective management systems to minimise and avoid losses especially from shoddy contracts that cost the government revenue.

Of particular concern is the tendency of public servants to rush to sign and cancel contracts, which end up in court and are costly to tax payers.

According to the Ministry of Justice, the government was been taken to court 543 times from June 2017 until June 2018. Out of 368 cases, the government managed to win only 267 court cases and lost 101 cases; 175 cases are still pending and 10 cases were settled out of court.

The challenges of contract management in public entities are still persistent as some government projects and facilities are operating below required capacity.

The Ministry of Justice’s report singled out utility bodies, which have in their account Rwf75.5 billion worth of public resources that were underutilised or are operating below the expected capacity.

The report shows that a total of 109 contracts worth up to Rwf207 billion were delayed or abandoned. Government officials link the situation to bad contracting and poor management, which saw some public officials pocketing the money.

The justice ministry also says corrupt public officials stash the money away and then claim they are unable to pay the funds back.

“The process of recovering public funds is hampered by the fact that those who have to pay back are found to have no assets,” said Médiatrice Uwiteguye, a legal officer at National Industrial Research and Development Agency.