Kampala, (UG): President Yoweri Museveni has okayed an annual allocation of Shs500 billion to boost technological innovations in the country and also permitted tax exemption for products from local innovators who are just entering the market.
The President made the pronouncements on Thursday, November 09, while addressing innovators, government officials and investors on the fourth day of National Science Week at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds.
“Recently, we were able to put more than Shs1 trillion in the Parish Development Model (PDM) programme, year after year…So even here, this Shs500 billion you [Dr Monica Musenero] is talking about, is not a lot of money, we can put it. Instead of mourning and crying, bring the proposal, we shall put the money,” Mr Museveni said.
The pronouncement from the President followed the presentations at the event by Dr Monica Musenero, the minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, her Finance counterpart Matia Kasaija and other investors on the challenges crippling the advancement of local innovations in the country.
Mr Museveni said the government has, however, been supporting local innovations. “We have been putting money, project by project, as [Finance Minister Matia] Kasaija said, some people interfere with it but we can stop them,” he said.
“Therefore, we don’t have a problem with this minimum funding you [Dr Musenero] are talking about. The seed capital for innovations can be provided through this annual allocation of this money. If we can get the private sector who can bring additional venture capital, that is very good,” he added.
Mr Kasaija had earlier said: “The way I have seen things here, the way they have been moving it, we need to have a special vote for science and technology where we would deposit money and nobody can cut it down or put in more without your consultation and even the Ministry of Finance.”
Dr Musenero explained in an interview after the event that the shortfalls in funding are affecting progress in research and innovations.
“It is actually a miracle that we have been able to do what we have been doing. While the previous year we got some money, about Shs260 billion, this financial year, we got Shs41 billion. So that money, when I distribute among the institutions I have, barely gives them salaries,” she said.
Dr Musenero further said if they get a Shs500 billion annual allocation, they would be able to attract additional funding from all venture capitalists and other investors.
“Most of our innovators just need a little funding. Many of them need like Shs200-500 million to put up a pilot plant so that they can produce and distribute their products. When an investor comes and finds that they have started, they will put in money,” she said.
“The investors who have arrived and those that are coming, they have a total of $5 billion which they are ready to invest, but they want to be sure that government is supporting these things,” she added.
On allegations of corruption, which some politicians made against her, Dr Musenero asked the President to intervene, saying those allegations are baseless.
The President, on his part, said: “Those who falsely accuse people, those ones we shall deal with them because they are the saboteurs, they sabotage.”
The event was also attended by the Minister of State for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs, Hon. Kabuye Kyofatogabye, the State House Comptroller, Ms. Jane Barekye, scientists, and investors, among others.
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