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MPs demand accountability for funds spent on Covid-19 vaccines

Officials from the National Medical Stores (NMS) appearing before Parliament’s Health Committee. URN photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Parliament’s Health Committee is demanding accountability for the Covid-19 vaccine funds allocated to the National Medical Stores-NMS in the last two financial years.

NMS officials led by Apollo Newton Mwesigye, the NMS Board Secretary, Paul Okware, the Chief Operations Officer, and Lillian Audo, on Tuesday appeared before the committee to present the entity’s policy statement for the coming financial year 2022/2023.

Buikwe South MP, Dr. Michael Lulume Bayiga questioned the officials about the expenditure of the 80 billion Shillings appropriated by parliament in the current financial year 2021/2022 towards procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.

Bayiga also demanded accountability for another 18.5 Billion Shillings supplementary budget that was appropriated in the financial year 2019/2020, under NMS towards the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But Okware assured MPs that the money is captured under the entity’s non-wage budget of 572 billion Shillings and that it was spent.

“Within the last 6 months, we have received in excess of 60 billion worth of vaccine and there is more to come,” said Okware in part.

Okware emphasized that both budgets appropriated in the financial year 2019/2020 and 2021/2022, have been received by NMS and spent accordingly.

Dr. Charles Ayume, the Health Committee chairperson directed that NMS urgently provides MPs with details of how funds related to Covid-19 vaccines have been spent.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance official attached to the committee, Nimrod Agasha told MPs that the NMS budget for the coming financial year 2022/2023 has been cut by 80 billion Shillings since the government is expecting a grant from the World Bank of US Dollars 137 million which will be used for procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.

In this financial year 2021/2022, parliament appropriated 600 Million Shillings and the reduction means that the entity will in the next financial year 2022/2023 receive a total budget of 520 billion Shillings.

NMS is established under the National Medical Stores Act (Cap 207) of 1993 as an autonomous body responsible for procurement, storage, and distribution of essential medicines and medical supplies, primarily to government health facilities.

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