By Henry Sekanjako
MPs on the Parliament’s committee on finance have declined to approve sh9bn meant for the operations of the Presidential initiative on banana industrial development (PIBID) for 2014/2015 financial year over accountability queries.
The MPs noted that there was no need to continue approving money for a project whose leadership has failed to account to parliament and also draw a business plan to run the project.
“I remember one time while appearing before the public accounts committee of parliament (PAC) the executive director PIBID said she was not ready to account to parliament, so I feel it is not right if we let this money go to these people, when they are not ready to account for it. We should put it aside,” said Martin Muzaale, the Buzaaya county MP.
Dr. Rev. Florence Isabirye Muranga is the Executive Director PIBID
The MPs observed that despite continuous funding now amounting to over sh50b to the project since 2005, the original plan of having a state-of-the art community based banana processing industry at Bushenyi operating through a technical business incubator is far from becoming a reality.
The committee noted that PIBID is faced with accountability issues both financial and value for money audits according to the Auditor General’s report.
“I am wondering whether the concerns of the auditor general were ignored, we should first clear concerns like issues of the business plan and accountability before we can give them more money,” said Emma Boona, the Mbarara district woman MP.
In the value for money audit on the management of PIBID from 2004/2005 to 2011/2012 financial years, the Auditor General noted that despite receiving 97% of the appropriated funds to the tune of sh40.122b, the project objectives have not been attained.
“What they are doing makes a lot of sense, but there is no value for money. Let them sort out the irregularities then we shall continue appropriating the money,” said Tim Lwanga, the Kyamuswa county MP.
The MPs were on Thursday receiving submissions from finance minister Maria Kiwanuka regarding the ministry’s policy statement for the financial year 2014/2015.
However in response to the staying of PBID’s budget, Kiwanuka asked the MPs to consider engaging with PBID leadership on accountability issues for a final position.
“Let us wait for PBID and put these questions to them, there is information that they have already submitted their business plan to parliament, so we need to listen to them so that there is justice,” pleaded Minister Kiwanuka. The committee resolved to meet PBID on Thursday next week for a way forward.
Initiated by President Yoweri Museveni, BIPID was aimed at kick-starting state-of-the-art banana processing enterprises targeting rural farmers to improve value addition to bananas, raise income opportunities and expand market access for banana growers and entrepreneurs.
MPs block sh9bn budget for banana project