House Adopts Report of the Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation
The report of the Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation on Ministerial Policy Statements and Budget Estimates for the FY2019/2020 was presented and debated in Parliament on Tuesday 23rd April. In a house chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, the chairperson of the committee, Hon. Fred Bwino read out the observations and recommendations that were made.
The Committee observed that the proposed total allocation to the Sector for both recurrent and development expenditure for FY2019/2020 is UGX 159.74 bn. The overall share for the FY2019/20 declined from 0.6% in FY2018/19 to 0.4% in FY 2019/20. Hon. Fred Bwino said that thus certainly shows that the Sector is not being given the attention it deserves. The reduction in share of the budget allocation to STI is not reflective of Government’s commitment in strengthening the Sector considering its importance in the growth of the economy as envisaged in NDP II.
The committee also made recommendations on the Innovation Fund that established in FY 2003/2004 as a mechanism to strengthen scientific research and innovations, support commercialisation of products, adaptation and transfer of technologies. The Fund has since FY 2018/19 not been provided for in the Budget as Parliament halted provision of funds owing to the absence of a legal framework to support the application of the Fund. The lack of guidelines for the Innovation Fund retarded the commercialisation and support of different innovations.
They recommended that the Ministry of Science and Technology should, designate a specific unit to administer the programme and use the framework as the guiding policy. They further recommended that UGX. 35bn be reinstated in the Budget for FY 2019/20 to support the innovation program.
The committee further noted that Kiira Motors Company plans to assemble and deploy three Electric buses and three charging stations as part of the Electric Bus Pilot Programme in Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area which is scheduled to be completed by June 2019 at a planned cost of UGX 4.54bn.
Hon. Otieno (Budama West) was amused by the contradictions between government Ministries in relation to this. He said that the Ministry of Works is investing heavily in extracting oil and yet the Science and Technology Ministry is looking to invest in manufacturing electric cars wondering who then will consume the fuel that is being extracted. Hon. Fred Bwino riposted saying these vehicles will be hybrids and will use both electricity and fuel.
Hon. Odur Jonathan (Erute County) was disappointed that the IST committee did not recommend that the money given to Kiira EV be redirected to another sector because Kiira Motors is not showing any positive results. On the other hand, Hon. Nsaba Oshabe said that the innovation fund has been misused – being used in administration (procuring office equipment, furniture and cars) instead of being given to the innovators to invest in their inventions and take on commercialization.
The house was finally able to adopt the Report of the Committee of Science, Technology and Innovation on the Ministerial Policy Statements and Budget Estimates for FY 2019/2020. The report was sent to the committee of Budget that will scrutinize it and bring it back to the house.