Musenero report: MPs want innovation hub scrapped

Dr Monica Musenero, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation

What you need to know:

The parliamentary report observes that Shs2.6b was not accounted for due to poor operational management.

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation that investigated the allegations of corruption against Dr Monica Musenero, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, has made several recommendations, including disbanding the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE) over gross irregularities.


In its report presented to Parliament yesterday,  the committee said although PRESIDE was established to spearhead the pathogen economy, it has been mired with mismanagement, poor accountability and overall poor planning.
According to the report, government failed to define the initiative’s legality, analyse and optimise the structures that were already established and build on them to operate it effectively.

Mr Xavier Kyooma, the committee chairperson, told the House that their investigations had unearthed a number of anomalies in the implementation of the initiative, and that what Dr Mussenero had told them that the clinical trial results were safe proved to be a fallacy since no conclusive data had been gathered.
Mr Kyooma also said the committee noticed that the candidate medicine had not been patented and subjected to empirical testing, and that National Drug Authority had not even approved any of them.
“The construction of the plant to produce the candidate vaccine was premature because the vaccine had not been authenticated by either the World Health Organisation or National Drug Authority for it to be mass-produced,” he said.

Mr Kyooma said PRESIDE funds to the tune of Shs2.6b were not accounted for due to poor operational management. 
He said there were no guidelines for reporting lines and, therefore, “there should be accounting officers who can be held responsible for any financial loses”.
“PRESIDE, therefore, is a duplication of the already existing structures but without funds. ,” he said.
Mr Kyooma said research and innovation has over the years been inadequately financed and the advent of Covid-19 demonstrated the need for the country to increase its funding towards research development and innovation.

“Consequently, where research is already ongoing at the research institutions, the projects should be funded directly through budget appropriations to the host institutions,” he said.
Mr Yona Musinguzi (Ntungamo Municipality, NRM) said more than Shs50b had been withdrawn by the presidential initiative from the state coffers but without clear expenditure.

Dr Musenero, however, denied the corruption allegations, saying the PRESIDE accounts were already audited by the Auditor General and found to be clean.
She added that PRESIDE has already been disbanded with the onset of the merger of the Ministry of Science and Innovation with that of the presidency.
Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa deferred any debates on the report, saying members need to read it first.