By Umaru Kashaka
KAMPALA - The budget committee of parliament has recommended that the process to create a separate Vote (budget) for the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratory (DGAL) be started by the ministry of finance next financial year to allow it effectively execute its functions.
This was during the Friday’s discussion of the sessional committee on defence report on the macroeconomic plan and indicative budget framework of the defence sector for the financial year 2014/15-2017/2018.
The MPs noted that a separate budget was required because of the uniqueness of DGAL operations which include emergency interventions into incidents that require immediate response.
“The granting of a separate Vote [budget] will lessen the time required to conclude forensic investigations through quick acquisition of laboratory consumables as well as improvement in efficiency of processes,” said the defence committee chairperson and Mubende Woman MP, Benny Namugwanya.
The legislators also recommended that additional funding of over sh5b be provided to help upgrade as well as replace obsolete equipment with modern ones.
“This is an important facility but it saddens to find that many of its scientific machines are broken down due to lack of funds to service them and buy new ones. Government should find this money,” the Nakasongola Woman MP, Margaret Komuhangi said
Recently the director of DGAL Kepher Kateu told legislators that the quantity of available chemicals to undertake timely investigations of forensic and scientific cases has a direct effect on the time suspects are held on remand in prisons.
“Inadequate funds to procure chemicals leads to increased turnaround time, congestion in prisons and delayed administration of justice hence increasing government expenditure,” he explained.
Kateu observed that the laboratory can generate non-tax revenue to a tune of sh10b annually when fully facilitated, while saving government at least sh2b from outsourcing tests to other international laboratories in administration of justice.
“Additional savings of sh1b in feeding and upkeep of suspects on remand can be realized as a result of quick resolution of court cases thus reducing case backlog,” he asserted.
The national analytical laboratory is used in testing of DNA for paternity, in detecting poisons and in measuring amount of heavy metal in the atmosphere, soil and water, among others.
However, despite its existence, Uganda has continued to rely on foreign facilities.
The government early last year sent body samples of the late MP, Cerinah Nebanda, to South Africa, India and Israel to ascertain cause of her death.