The Director of the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development Reverend Florence Isabirye Muwanga has failed to give convincing answers on how about 40 billion shillings was spent in the initiative Appearing before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday, Reverend Muwanga felt insulted when she realized her answers were not sufficient enough.
A decision by government to fund the project was based on a very comprehensive project design document in which efforts were made to cater for a wide range of sustainability and viability issues.
These included starting a pilot banana processing industry in Bushenyi, building capacity of rural farmers in new production technologies and agronomic practices and start-up a rural value addition enterprise.
However, auditors noted that by December 2011 the project had not been completed and experienced a delay of two years given the volume of outstanding work.
Kassiano Wadri the Public accounts committee chairman wanted to know who invited Rev. Muwanga to meet the President and seek for funding for her banana project.
However, the executive director was evasive in her answers saying she was just a researcher in her laboratory and when she received the call from the Office of the President she did not bother to ask who it was. She failed to explain how people get jobs in her organization and the legal instruments that set up the project.
Isingiro South MP Alex Byarugaba Bakunda insisted that Rev Muwanga provide a name of a particular person who called her so as to avoid confusion. Her cheeks shaking in anger, the clergywoman fully dressed in her dog collar took offence and wondered why she was being doubted and made to take oath.
PAC Chairperson Kassiano Wadri then ordered that she take oath before the proceedings continued.
The MPs were questioning why a feasibility study was not done before the banana project took off in 2005 and ended in December 2009.
According to the auditor general’s report, documentary review and interviews with staff showed that there was no feasibility study conducted to justify commitment of 40 billion shillings to the project by government.
Paul Mwiru, the PAC vice chairperson asked Rev Muwanga if she thought government had lost money in the project which started at a cost of 23 billion shillings and ended up consuming an additional 17 billion shillings. Muwanga agreed that there was no study carried out and answered in a small voice that she does not know who was to blame for failure to carry out a feasibility study.
According to the proposal document, the project was commissioned in January 2005 and was expected to be implemented within five years till December 2009. The Technology Business Incubator at Bushenyi was expected to be completed in 2007 and the Industrial Technology Park (ITP) in Sanga, Kiruhura district by 2009.
However, the Auditor General found that the construction of the Bushenyi Incubator delayed by four years and at the time of inspection; construction work had stalled as contractors had laid down their tools for non-payment.
The ITP at Sanga had not started although the contract for surveying and development of the master plan for the ITP had been awarded even before securing ownership of the land.