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DRC’s presidency under Kabila spends five times 2018 budget

By Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala, in Kinshasa
Posted on Friday, 22 November 2019 13:11

Joseph Kabila, at the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York, on 23 September 2017. Craig Ruttle/AP/SIPA

Last year, the Congolese presidency spent almost five times its allocated budget, according to a report by the Court of Auditors. It warns that this has led to "unequal treatment" of ministries, and underfunding investment projects of national importance.

The Court of Auditors’ examination reveals the mismanagement of public finances, under the then President Joseph Kabila, broke all records for budget overruns.

The report released on Wednesday is a damning indictment on  Congolese institutions which have blown their funding. Aside from the presidency, the other biggest culprit of overspending is the then Prime Minister, Bruno Tshibala’s office.

Big spenders

The Presidency’s expenditure ceiling was set at $63m, but it spent almost five times as much, reaching $302m. The presidency’s biggest budget overrun was on operating costs, set at $28m in 2018, reaching $256m.

The prime minister was not to be outdone. During Bruno Tshibala’s tenure, his budget breached the $23m allocation by almost double, reaching $40m… Here again, operating costs were a major factor. The Prime Minister’s office was granted $10m, but it spent $18m.

The executive branches of government were not the only ones fingered for overspending. The National Assembly and the Senate spent  133.92% and 116.7% of their budget allocations, respectively.

The Court of Auditors’ report was highly critical, saying  “[the overspending] did not contribute to the country’s development”.

  • They also found that, “this execution of expenditure has led to inequalities in treatment: some ministries and institutions see their appropriations overrun; others, on the other hand, experience either very low or no execution of their appropriations”.

Underfunded investment projects

While spending soared in the presidency and in other ministries, development projects were underfunded or even neglected. The Court of Auditors found 1,173 investment projects that were simply not implemented, totalling $635m. Only two thirds of the projects in the 2018 budget were financed.

The net effect of government’s under-spending on development projects coupled with overspending by ministries has resulted in an overall budget implementation rate of 111.04%, reaching $3.862bn.

The Court of Auditors concludes its report by calling on parliament to sanction  those managers found guilty of overspending.

  • For Steve Kivuata, spokesperson for the opposition coalition, Lamuka , “the political actors in power are gluttonously using the State’s money, sacrificing poverty reduction projects and the investments needed to reduce mass unemployment”.

Bottom line: President Félix Tshisekedi has promised to rein in spending while implementing a bold series of social programmes in the DRC. This will be a significant test of his government which remains largely controlled by Kabila’s allies who have enjoyed spending lavishly in the past.

 

This article first appeared in Jeune Afrique.

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