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Museveni Commissions Banana Factory Despite Queries From MPs

President Yoweri Museveni has lashed out at some Members of Parliament for attempting to sabotage the construction of a Banana process plant in Bushenyi district.
President Yoweri Museveni has lashed out at some Members of Parliament for attempting to sabotage the construction of a Banana process plant in Bushenyi district.

The banana factory established under Presidential Initiative in 2005 is used as a field research station for value addition and quality control of banana products in the country.

Since its inception there have been a lot of queries by the Auditor General about the project. In the 2011 value for money audit report it was noted that a number of project activities that were supposed to be carried out had never been put in place.

This attracted the attention of members of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Aommittee (PAC) to visit the project site in Nyaruzinga Bushenyi to find out why a project that was initially budgeted at 23 billion shillings to become fully operational was in need of more funds.

In the 2013-2014 budgetary provision, more 25 billion shillings was being reflected under the same. The project director, Rev. Prof. Florence Muranga, explained that the civil works at the project were commissioned shortly before the global economic downturn which led to unpredictable changes in the markets and the depreciation of the shilling against major currencies leading to foreign exchange loss on the project equipment.

Despite the explanation, MPs have been attempting to block the release of more funds for the project and at some point they ordered for the arrest of Prof. Muranga for failure to show valve for money.

But President Museveni, who says he is satisfied with the progress at the factory, says the concern of the Members of Parliament was a serious weakness over a project that was still at its initial stage.

Museveni says the MPs did not know that the equipment procured by the professor for the factory were made on special arrangements because they never existed in any part of the world since Banana processing had never taken place.

The president said this during the commissioning of the project in which Government has so far injected 68.4 billion shillings.

He said the amount spent on the project so far is very little compared to the importance of the project adding that this wouldn't have been the source of the battle for the MPs to attack innovative and developmental Ugandans who are trying to transform farmers from peasantry into commercial Banana farming.

The Banana factory has a fully-fledged product development unit consisting of a drying technology laboratory.