Fix these problems at Rwanda Social Security Board before they worsen

Wednesday March 6 2019


Mutuelle de Sante card-holder being attended to at a Rwandan hospital.  

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We have seen changes in the top leadership in key institutions. For example, when Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) got a new boss — Richard Tusabe — the structural changes have enabled the institute to return to profitability.

Now, RSSB is perceived to be more accountable and open to the public about its affairs than it used to be under the previous administrations.

Because of this, the public have come to learn more about the internal affairs of RSSB than was known in probably the past ten years.

Tusabe, known for his pragmatic approach from his previous work as chief tax collector, joined RSSB with a disclosure policy, where just after a few months in office last year, he called for a press conference to reveal all the pension body’s challenges, strengths and strategies it needs to turn its fortunes around.

It was during that press conference that the public came to know about fraud in the institution for many years, whereby even RSSB employees were implicated in conniving with outsiders to defraud the body, eating it from the inside.

It was also revealed that pharmacies and clinics have also been conniving with RSSB clients by inflating medical bills, which has ended up driving up the pension body’s medical expenditures.

This forced the government to look for money else- where in order to plug the funding deficit in the community-based insurance scheme Mutuelle de Santé. RSSB’s functions have now evolved from merely handling the pension scheme to running Mutuelle de Santé.

The body was recently added the responsibility of operating the maternity leave plan introduced last year where all employers are required to submit a 0.3 per cent deduction from all government employees to provide 100 per cent salary cover for mothers on maternity leave.

The growing portfolio of schemes and billions of money-under its management comes with a lot of complexities; one the workload can easily overwhelm management making the pension body vulnerable to past challenges.

The annual Auditor-General’s report has shown severally that this has already happened again, and Tusabe, in his address said he is working tirelessly to implement the AG’s recommendations.

The body has engaged the relevant authorities like Rwanda Investigation Bureau, which is following up on the errant employees and other suspects in the fraud — which is a good step.

But what is even more critical is for the government to do a thorough assessment of the body’s strengths and weaknesses, and where necessary update its systems to prevent the financial haemorrhaging, which comes at the expense of pensioners and the public as a whole.

Advanced technology is one of the key tools the government can use to plug the gaps in such an important institution, but it also needs to invest in a well-trained, innovative and professional workforce that is also well remunerated.