What you need to know:
- When asked about this development, Dr Musenero said she is aware of the request and a letter copied to several government offices, but for now, she is constrained to comment against claims by TRIDI.
The Tropical Institute of Development Innovations (TRIDI), a private company implementing the government’s national silk production project, has asked the government to allow it to borrow Shs5b from money lenders to fund projects.
According to an August 18 letter addressed to the State House Comptroller and the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovations, TRIDI wants the government to allow it to get the money and enter into a joint venture with the undisclosed money lender.
TRIDI also proposing to offer the government a factory and mulberry at Sheema District as security for the loan as it waits for State House to release Shs5b it requested on August 16 to plant 2,000 acres of mulberry, procure 2,300 acres of land in Bulambuli District for silk development, clearing and payment of machines for post cocoon processing, and building capacity for silkworm egg production.
“The delay to release funds is negatively affecting the project and the situation has again gotten really desperate. We shall also propose to the money lender to become a joint partner in the project located in Sheema during the commercialisation or until the money lender recovers their money at the agreed interest rate,” the letter signed off by Mr Clet Wandui Masiga, the executive director and Principal Investigator of TRIDI, indicates.
Mr Masiga says the project resulted from President Museveni’s 2016-2021 directives to support scientists to enhance industrialisation so as to transform the economy from a peasant to an industrialised one. When the innovations fund to support scientists to commercialise their innovations was created, TRIDI was among the first beneficiaries.
“The purpose of this letter is, therefore, to request you to allow us to borrow funds from a money lender to save the project and since we started as an innovator, we can enter into a joint venture with willing partners to commercialise the project,” he said.
However, in another letter to the Solicitor General and copied to several government oversight and accountability institutions on September 2, Mr Masiga accuses Science, Technology and Innovation minister, Dr Monica Musenero, of disrupting the commercialisation of the Sericulture Technologies and Innovations project as it is called.
He says despite the previous benefits and achievements, the minister is using her position to promote hate speech and statements which are causing ill-will, insecurity, criminal trespass and she is claiming the project has used Shs80b, which is not true.
When asked about this development, Dr Musenero said she is aware of the request and a letter copied to several government offices, but for now, she is constrained to comment against claims by TRIDI.
“Last Thursday, I received the letter, which was copied to many people. I will give a comment once investigations are complete so that I can give consistent and factual information,” she said.
Asked whether it is appropriate for government projects to go to money lenders for funding, Mr Jim Mugunga, the Ministry of Finance spokesperson, said such projects do not have votes, but they should go to their sector ministries otherwise they are only trying to be alarmist.
Efforts to get comments from Jane Barekye, the State House Comptroller, and Mr Yunus Kakande, the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President, were futile as they did not answer our repeated phone calls.
According to TRIDI, last year, it implemented the project in 24 districts that include Sheema, Kiruhura, Bulambuli, Kamuli, Kween, Mubende, Mukono, Iganga, Luwero, Kayunga, Nakaseke, Bukedea, Zombo, Nwoya, Builwe, Pallisa, Busia, Amolatar, Otuke, Lira, Agago, and Pader.
When asked to shed more light on the progress of the project, which is anticipated to create 300,000 jobs, Mr Masiga said he can only respond when he returns to the county.