Presidential banana project suspended
Publish Date: May 23, 2013
Parliament has suspended funding for the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development (PIBID) over accountability queries.
Both the parliamentary finance committee and the budget committees have refused to approve sh10b, which the Government had allocated to the banana initiative in the next budget.
In the report to the budget committee last week, the finance committee observed that despite continuous funding now amounting to 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 with great concern when PIBID executive director, Dr. Florence Muranga, informed the committee that she only reports to the President and not the line minister through which the project funds are appropriated. The executive director further informed the committee that she is not accountable to Parliament,” states the report.
The committee also discovered that PIBID is faced with accountability issues both in financial and value for money audits according to the Auditor General’s report.
In the value for money audit on the management of PIBID from 2004/2005 to 2011/2012 financial years, the Auditor General concludes that despite receiving 97% of the appropriated funds to the tune of sh40.122b, the project objectives have not been attained.
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.
The finance committee MPs say whereas the Government has invested over 40b in the initiative, the profits made out of the venture are not returned to the national treasury.
The committee also noted with strong concern that the patent rights of PIBID are registered in the individual names of the executive director yet the initiative is 100% funded from the taxpayers’ money.
Efforts by the finance committee to obtain a report on the status of the factory and the transitional or future plans of the initiative were futile.
It also discovered that no feasibility study was done before the establishment of the enterprise, and up to now there is no business plan to guide the implementation of the project.
“The committee, therefore, rejects the proposal of indicative budget allocation of sh10.2b to PIBID. The committee further recommends that sh10.2b be reallocated to other deserving unfunded activities,” the finance committee report concludes.
The MPs on the budget committee decided that they would give the money to the envelope for enhancement of teachers’ salaries in addition to funds from other sources.