By Nakarema Juliet
The Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr Monica Musenero was on Thursday put to task by the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to explain why she hired friends and close associates to develop the Covid-19 vaccine.
This followed an earlier meeting where the former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations had accused Dr Musenero of disappearing with his personal file which had accountability documents to help the Auditor General’s investigations into the expenditures by the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE).
Musenero and her team were appearing before the committee that is considering the Auditor General’s forensic investigation report into Covid-19 funds received and expended by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MoSTI) during financial years 2019/2020 and 2020/2021.
In the Financial Year 2019/2020, the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MoSTI) had approved a budget of Shs10b for innovation, out of which Shs5.3b was reallocated by to Covid-19 expenditure. PRESIDE also received additional funding of Shs 31 billion in he Financial Year 2020/21 which was to support the 23 selected projects of scientists engaged in Covid-19 research most of whom were friends and close associates to Dr. Monica Musenero. The ministry has since been abolished and a secretariat is now under the Office of the President.
The MPs accused the minister for employing scientists close to her which frauded the PPDA regulations because the project for development of the Covid-19 vaccine was initiated by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations through PRESIDE.
Musenero failed to answer a question raised by Hon Nandala Mafabi on how she identified scientists and institutions for vaccine development without the ministry’s approval.
Hon. Eddie Kwizera also asked Dr. Musenero where she got the mandate to reallocate Shs 1.2 billion towards the rehabilitation of a laboratory at Makerere University without the approval of the Permanent Secretary, David Obong, a question she failed to give a clear answer to.
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