Science minister Musenero can’t account for four rats in new AG report

The auditors queried the rats bought by Musenero and the money spent on the same. They found a mismatch in the procurement details.

Kampala – A recent report by the Office of the Auditor General has shown that there was massive corruption in handling Covid-19 funds by responsible key government personalities.

John Muwanga, the Auditor General in the report has exposed and pointed a finger that Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Monica Musenero could be one of the suspected culprits.

In the last financial year, billions of shillings were allocated to Musenero’s ministry for innovation as government battles to fight Covid-19. Part of the money allocated to her was to procure eight (8) laboratory rats to conduct research for manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines in Uganda.

Out of the eight rats she promised to procure, she only procured four, the audit report has exposed.

The audit report presented before Parliament was for the period from 2019 to 2021. The auditors queried the rats bought and the money spent on the same. They found a mismatch in the procurement details.

“Out of the 8 humanised mice that had been budgeted to cost Shs48M and valued at Shs6M each, only four were delivered at a total cost of shs46.6m. I further noted that ordinary mice worth shs10m were not purchased for the R&D 11 project,” Muwanga said, as quoted by the Business Focus.

According to the same publication, quoting the report, the Lab Animal House under Makerere University, and PCR and antibody diagnostic kits projects which had a total approved proposal budget of shs2.92b had received a total of shs3.83b without sufficient justification which had resulted into a total overpayment of shs904m.

The Ministry of Science and Technology received funds for Covid-19 fights in two batches with the first being shs5.3b paid in the financial year 2019-2020 and shs31b in the financial year 2020-2021.

With all the above allocations, Ugandans are yet to see or hear of, or be inoculated with its first locally made Covid-19 vaccines.

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In the same audit report, Muwanga and his team also queried the fuel spending by the Ministry of Science and Technology under Musenero. They found out that shs19.66b was paid to MS Vivo Energy (U) Ltd for consumption of fuel on various activities during the period under review. However, M/S Vivo Energy provided consumption statements totaling to shs21.45b for the same period which had not been reconciled by (her) the Ministry.

The AG report further faulted the Ministry of Science and Technology for spending shs5.25b and shs15.88b respectively for the procurement of research equipment from suppliers who had not been prequalified.

Musenero’s ministry defended that the purchase did not cater for a research in market price as stipulated in the procurement regulations.

“It should be recalled that the Office of the Auditor general was asked in September 2021 to conduct a forensic audit into the expenditure of the Covid-19 funds as part of the resolutions made by Parliament after an initial probe into the expenditure of Covid-19 funds,” Business Focus.

While chairing the House on Wednesday, Speaker Anita Among said, “…we received a number of audit reports from the Auditor General including the report on the forensic audit into the use of Covid-19 funds. The relevant committees will scrutinize the report.”

“We shall push for action against those found culpable,” she added.

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