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newtimes - 18 days ago

Government moves to reform water sector

The Government has embarked on a comprehensive assessment of persisting mismanagement issues in the Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) in order to make an evidence-based reform of the institution, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Infrastructure has said. Patricie Uwase made the revelation during the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing into the use and management of public assets which started on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. She was accompanied by WASAC officials to answer queries regarding cases of mismanagement exposed in the Auditor General (AG)’s report of State Finances for the financial year that ended on June 30, 2020. Speaking to The New Times, Uwase said that the assessment started two weeks ago, and that the report is expected mid-October this year (2021), and that this will help provide a lasting solution to the issues in WASAC. She said that the study will determine the way forward for the institution – whether to split it into two entities, one in charge of development (water production), the other with utility (water distribution or sale) – or to change its organisational structure.  “It is a comprehensive assessment, not only looking at the financials, compliance on projects, but looking at everything including the staffing, the core business, and the targets we have,” she told PAC members.  “Through this assessment, we wanted to go deep into the structure of WASAC so as to establish whether it is fit for purpose, or whether there should be a change in the institution,” she said. Among other issues that were indicated by the AG’s report, WASAC failed to provide its financial statements for the fiscal year 2019-2020 to the Auditor General. This means that the body was not audited for the fiscal year 2019-2020. As a result, it was responding to financial mismanagement cases identified in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. MP Germaine Mukabalisa said that the human resource constraints advanced by WASAC management to justify their failure to provide financial statements to Auditor General, were simply unacceptable. “Where did you get the powers to deny the Auditor General financial statements,” she asked WASAC officials. Supplier paid twice Meanwhile, the AG’s report (for the year ended June 2019) indicated that over Rwf103 million was paid twice to the supplier - Africa General Trading, a supplier who provided WASAC with water treatment chemicals. The money was paid to the same supplier through separate WASAC Ltd bank accounts in Bank of Kigali (BK) and Guarantee Trust (GT) bank. According to the report, it is alleged by [the WASAC management] that the payments made via the two cheques to BK had been cancelled. However, the two cheques issued on January 28, 2019 were received and paid by BK on the same date – February 4, 2019. Further analysis, the report found, revealed that on January 31, 2019, WASAC made the second payment of the same amount (over Rwf103 million) to the supplier for the same supplies. The payments were effected through online transfer using WASAC’s GT Bank account. Appearing before PAC, WASAC officials responded that there were mistakes made while making the payment to the supplier. However, MPs did not agree with them, wondering how cancelled cheques were later accepted at one bank – after an accountant from WASAC took them to the and the same payment was made online in another bank subsequently. MP Jeanne d’Arc Uwimanimpaye said that the team that paid the supplier by cheque is the same that made the payment online, noting that it was not understandable how that was done by mistake. “That is a sort of fraud,” she said. WASAC acting CEO, Gisele Umuhumuza told PAC members that the bank managed to retrieve the amount in question, but they could not recover over Rwf20 million which she said may have been lost in accumulated interest charges. Other issues include that WASAC has unsupported receivable balances (money it is owed by customers) amounting to over Rwf838 million, while it also has accounts payable balance (money it owes to other people) amounting to over Rwf803 million.


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