of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr. Monica Musenero has said that no
funds were released directly to the Presidential Scientific Initiative on
Epidemics (PRESIDE) for Covid-19 vaccine research purposes.
Musenero was on Tuesday responding to a report by the Select Committee that was
established to investigate the utilization of funds meant to facilitate the
COVID-19 vaccine development.
that research grants were instead released directly to the grantees and the
processes were managed by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
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tabled before parliament on Wednesday last week by Xavier Kyooma, the
Chairperson of the Select Committee on Science, Technology, and
Innovation said that the process of developing a vaccine was marred with
irregularities despite observations that some progress has been made.
Musenero was a Presidential Advisor on Epidemics at the time funds were
availed to scientists under PRESIDE for Covid-19 vaccine development.
PRESIDE, is a brainchild of President Museveni, and investigations by
parliament into the utilization of funds were sparked off by a complaint by
Ntungamo Municipality MP Yona Musinguzi on mismanagement of money.
The committee report established that President Museveni on May 6 directed that
PRESIDE be established and 2 billion shillings be released to the State House
Comptroller to facilitate the operations of the initiative. The committee also
notes that 5.3 billion was provided in the financial year 2019/2020 budget and
31.03 billion provided in 2020/2021 for scientists under PRESIDE for
procurement of equipment and project operational costs.
additional 25 billion was released for project operations, a supplementary
request of 50.4 billion for a manufacturing plant, and 27 billion for
additional operational funds for PRESIDE projects in the financial year
also observed that poor financial management resulted in at least 2.06 billion Shillings
not being accounted for under operational funds. Committee Chairperson Kyooma
also cited another 491 million not accounted for and queried 1.4 billion for
PRESIDE staff. This was also observed by the Auditor General, John Muwanga is
his latest audit report.
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also reported that the lack of guidelines on reporting resulted in discrepancies
and that the failure to harmonize allowance rates for scientists also led to
however apologized for any wrongs that she might have done during the process
of developing a Covid-19 vaccine, saying that never before has her integrity
and commitment to duty ever been questioned or have reason to be questioned
“If there is any way in my work and in the way I handled things, if I offended
anybody, I regret those issues and I will work to build a reputation and work
to build the science. It is very disheartening to have to read these
accusations in the media, hear comments on TV and Radio, and to have to explain
to my family and friends how unfair and untrue all these statements are,”
Musenero assured MPs that the scientists shall not be derailed or distracted in
the pursuit to develop vaccine research and development capacity.
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She also appealed for more funding for Covid-19 research saying that
financial support for the cause is still low compared to other countries.
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The Minister also commended the committee report for documenting the status of
Covid-19 research and showing that Ugandan scientists had made progress.
“The committee has throughout the report been consistent in recommending that
the preclinical and clinical studies for the vaccine should be expeditiously
concluded. This is important because it confirms the progress made by the
scientists in the research through the vital exploratory stage and clears them
to proceed to the next steps in the vaccine development stages journey,”
MP Kyooma disagreed with an earlier statement by Dr. Musenero saying that PRESIDE
had already been disbanded and was no more. He insisted that the
Initiative is still in existence according to the evidence before his committee.
that PRESIDE has also been allocated 25 billion Shillings according to a report
by Parliament’s Presidential Affairs Committee on the policy statements for
the next financial year 2022/2023.
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that parliament has no capacity to ascertain money lost, saying that the
appropriate government organs will be tasked to investigate the matter further.