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Driving PFM Reform in Rwanda: The Role of the Accountancy Profession

Obadiah Biraro, the outgoing Auditor General of Rwanda & Amin Miramago, CEO, Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Rwanda (ICPAR)  | 

With a population of over 11 million people, Rwanda is an East African Country that has demonstrated significant socio-economic progress. Rwanda’s long-term development goals are embedded in its vision to transform the country from a low-income agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based, service-oriented economy. Its Vision 2050 emphasizes universal access to improved living standards, sustained food security, protection of the Rwandan family, and universal access to quality affordable services in health, education, finance, housing, energy, infrastructure, among others. Its Vision 2050 aims to transform Rwanda into a middle-income economy by 2030 and a high-income economy by 2050. One of the priorities of the strategy is to transform its capital Kigali into a business process outsourcing center for financial services. The Rwanda Government is also actively implementing the Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs (2030); Paris Declaration on Climate Change (2030), East African Community (EAC) Vision (2050); and African Union Agenda (2063).

The role of the accountancy profession is supporting the country’s PFM strategy

Mr. Obadiah Biraro, the outgoing Auditor General of Rwanda shared insights on why PFM is crucial to Rwanda and its development and key priorities for the office of the auditor general. Key messages included:

  • PFM is the cornerstone of development - Rwanda’s drive for holistic development calls for sound PFM, built on firm principles.
  • Strong governance is central to the development agenda to ensure PFM is enshrined properly and visibly into the country’s vision
  • The role of the auditor general cannot be overemphasized, in particular to ensure completeness of accounting, recording activities and transactions as they happen, not just when cash is paid or received. Proper accrual accounting produces accountability, which in turn creates transparency.
  • People are a key success factor to achieving Rwanda's PFM strategy, professionalization in the public sector is therefore key, including continuous professional development. 

The Government of Rwanda, through the Ministry of Finance, identified the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Rwanda (ICPAR) as its partner for developing the skills and competencies of its financial management staff. IFAC also supported these efforts through the development of an accounting technician qualification.

Amin Miramago, the CEO of ICPAR shared the vision driving the development of the institute and how it is supporting its key stakeholders- the government and the office of the auditor general- with the implementation of the national PFM reform strategy. Key insights included:

  • Importance of working collaboratively with key stakeholders - collaborating with others in the public sector is crucial to achieve development results. ICPAR interacts regularly, and works on initiatives, with the government and the Office of the Auditor General and has ensured their representation on ICPAR’s governing council and commissions. ICPAR also partnered with the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Auditor General, and the Capital Markets Authority on an initiative promoting sustainability and SDG reporting, which received an award at the World Investment Forum.
  • ICPAR plays a key role in supporting PFM reform, including implementation of IPSAS by 2024, and capacity development. ICPAR is a key partner, helping the government to deliver a 15-year learning and development and PFM strategy. 
  • Challenges include:
    • Needing further advocacy on what the institute can contribute and how it can support – going beyond key stakeholders to other government bodies.
    • Managing counterproductive messages from some stakeholders through constant engagement.
    • Establishing a common understanding of what professionalization means, and how to best achieve it in a Rwandan context– whether this can be achieved through a separate qualification, designation, or institute.
  • Key success factors include:
    • Excellent leadership from the government
    • Clear strategy from the onset
    • Working meticulously, thorough research, and engaging with stakeholders inside and outside the country
    • Implementation of training initiatives and other workstreams.