Last Updated on: 30th March 2023, 01:24 pm
Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC) continues its inquiry into the alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 funds as highlighted in the Auditor General’s forensic audit report.
On Tuesday, the committee interrogated the minister for Science and Technology Dr. Monica Musenero over machines that were procured to facilitate research and development of COVID-19 vaccines that have never been utilized.
Frederick Angura, MP of Tororo South stated that the procurement was to serve a very significant purpose at that time but unfortunately they have not served the purpose, he instructed the minister to admit that the machines have not served the purpose.
Sarah Opendi, Woman MP of Tororo told the minister she has been at the forefront in guiding the President through the vaccine process.
She further questioned the minister if she was not aware that she didn’t have land at the time she went ahead to procure the machines.
“By the time you go to procure the equipment, you must be aware that you have all the requirements, even where to place this equipment.”
The committee members questioned Musenero on how she failed to put into use machines that cost the government shs5.2 billion.
Musenero explained that the machines were not utilized because they failed to secure a suitable building to install them. She further said the available buildings were found ‘unfit for the purpose’.
MP Angura further ascertained that the documents obtained indicate that all the available machines had arrived on November 2, 2021, adding that by the time of the machines’ arrival, the minister was prepared to utilize them.
The committee was shocked to realize that the warranty period for the machines she procured was to end on November 2, 2021, the same day it arrived.
The legislator said no one can guarantee that the machines whose warranty already expired can serve their purpose.
On the other, Nandala Mafabi, MP of Budadiri West compares the situation to buying a plane with no landing ground for it.
The Auditor General’s report also noted that the Minister for Science procured 4 Centrifuge at shs110 million for COVID-19 scientists at Makerere for anti-body diagnostic test kits but this equipment cannot be tracked.
Mafabi says according to the report, the Centrifuge was lost and never on the assets register. In her reply, Dr. Musenero said by the time of the audit, this particular equipment was stored with other equipment.
Recently, the MPs also questioned where the minister got the mandate to reallocate the Ministry’s funds toward the rehabilitation of a laboratory at Makerere University without the approval of the permanent secretary.
Despite the government investing over shs31 billion in COVID-19 research, little progress has been made in vaccine development.
In the Financial Year 2019/2020, MoSTI had approved a budget of shs10b for innovation, out of which shs5.3b was reallocated by the ministry to Covid-19 expenditure.
The MoSTI has since been abolished and staff placed under the Office of the President.