ACCOUNTABILITY: Members of the Public Accounts Committee (Central Government) have expressed concern over a Shs2.3 Billion Covid-19 machine which has never been used three years after its purchase.
The committee chaired by Hon. Medard Sseggona was on Wednesday, 22 March 2023 interfacing with former staff of the defunct Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MoSTI) over the Auditor General’s forensic investigations report into the Covid-19 funds.
According to the report of the Auditor General, on 24 June 2020, the ministry paid Shs5.1 billion to M/S Micro Haem Scientifics and Medical Supplies for the purchase and installation of R&D pieces of equipment for Ugandan scientists to support Covid-19 diagnostics and the development of vaccines and therapeutics.
However, while interfacing with the committee, Dianah Katiti, former contracts manager at the now defunct Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation revealed shocking details about the wastage of the Shs2.3 billion Covid-19 machine.
The machine, which was meant to aid in the fight against the pandemic, remains uninstalled, with both an expired warranty and starter kit.
Although the equipment was initially procured at Shs1.6 billion, the manufacturer revealed that the equipment would not function optimally without the accessories and reagents.
Government paid additional Shs757 million to make it Shs2.3 billion.
She also told the committee that some of the accessories of the assorted medical equipment had gone obsolete.
“It was still at the warehouse, there is a list of equipment for that project. We delivered all except two. They were not installed and we are waiting for instructions on installing them,” she said.
According to Katiti, the machine was supposed to be installed at the Good Laboratory Practice facility for Professor Moses Joloba of Makerere University, but he has not cleared them.
Sseggona said that there was money lost in the purchase of the equipment and the fact that to date the machine has not been installed.
“The failure to provide equipment installation space and put the equipment to use implies that no value for money has been realized.” He said.
Budadiri West Member of Parliament, Hon. Nathan Nandala Mafabi questioned why the machine was procured with urgency, but to date, not installed.
Nandala Mafabi also asked Katiti to explain why the machine purchased was priced higher than the prices on the internet.
She said that the cost of over Shs2.3 billion involved purchase, transport, installation, and training of the expert.
Sseggona also tasked the team of the former ministry by former Permanent Secretary, David. O.O Obong to present all documents related to accountability, including letters to Minister Monica Musenero who was the leader of the Presidential Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE).
Source: Parliament of Uganda