SQUEEZED: Parliament Grills Minister Musenero Over COVID Funds Accountability

Dr Monica Musenero

Dr Monica Musenero PHOTO/GRAPEVINE


KAMPALA, Uganda [SHIFT MEDIA] The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations, Dr Monica Musenero is on the spot for failing to provide accountability documents relating to the Covid-19 expenditure for the financial years of 2019/2020 and 2020/2021.

The legislators from on Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had gave the scientist, and President Museveni’s adviser on Epidemiology rough time when she appeared before the committee to respond to queries in the Auditor General’s (AG) forensic investigation conducted by AG John Muwanga.

The AG said he couldn’t ascertain whether all Covid-19 expenditures were applied in accordance with existing guidelines and regulations.

The Auditor General, among his findings, noted that Dr Musenero did not provide specific accountability documents and, therefore, “could not make the conclusions he could have made [in his final report] had he received and reviewed all the necessary documentation”.

The particulars of the documents Muwanga said were not availed to him were proof of submission of accountability by the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE) by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations (MoSTI), the approved adjusted budgets for the laboratory animal house project and the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and antibody diagnostic test kits, PRESIDE follow-up on un-installed equipment for scientists, and the records regarding the current status of equipment procured by MoSTI.

Musenero Defends Self

“I have confirmed that this document [bearing the current status of equipment procured by MoSTI] was available. We had a lot of documents to hand over but it was possibly an omission but the documents were there,” she said.

Following the minister’s response that the documents are there, the committee members then tasked her to produce them before them, which she failed to do.

Mr Medard Ssegona (Busiro County East), the committee chairperson, ruled that the minister’s actions affected the AG’s work.

“Whatever report the AG issued is subject to this limitation and you know what this means. Honourable minister, you committed an offence unless you extricate yourself out of this.”

He added: “When you go back, dig deeper for accountability-related documents because that was what the AG was asking for. Budget allocation was not an issue here but when you are allocated a budget, you account [for it].”

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“Honourable Musenero herself is an accounting officer as far as this case is concerned. She was in-charge and directed and concurred and the AG raised issues that she did not give him [specific] documents. The first documents she should produce are those that she refused to give him,” Mr Mafabi said.

He added: “Then other additional documents that we may need because as far as I am concerned, we have not even moved an inch.”

The MPs instructed her to provide the accountability on Friday.

The money
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.

Source/Daily Monitor

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