DGAL Faulted For Charging Commercial Rates.
Legislators on the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament have queried huge amounts of money charged by the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratory to People that carry out DNA tests from the laboratory. MPs claim Shs750, 000 is too high for Ugandans who want DNA tests to afford.
DGAL is battling with a case backlog of DNA tests that shoot up after the covid-19 induced lockdown.
While appearing before the public accounts committee of parliament to answer queries as highlighted in the auditor general’s report for the financial year ended 30th June 2021, Officials of the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratory (DGAL) have been questioned on the high cost of DNA tests charged by the entity.
According to the director of DGAL Kepher Kuchana Kateu, a single DNA test costs Shs750, 000 in rates approved by the government. He explained that the charge is huge because each DNA test consists of three samples of a father, a mother, and a contested child.
However, MPs wondered why DGAL charges similar rates for DNA testing as commercial laboratories yet the government funds their budget fully on taxpayers’ money.
Legislators explained that the demand for DNA tests in the public is huge including MPs who have contested children in their homes but the cost of DNA testing is so limiting.
DGAL officials explained that there was a spike in demand for DNA after Covid 19, which resulted in a huge backlog of cases. They explained that the high cost of DNA is another measure used to mitigate case backlog. According to the Auditor General’s report, the case backlog at the government laboratory surged in 2021 by 10% from 2099 in the previous year to 2317.
Legislators faulted the DGAL for failure to construct the national DNA data bank. In the Financial year 2020/2021 DGAL planned to build a national DNA Data bank infrastructure and the Ministry of Finance released UGX8.6bn but the construction did not take place and money was swept back into the consolidated fund.
PAC also grilled DGAL for underutilization of the digital forensic equipment which is used to recover data on mobile phones that cost the government Shs337M. Only one case was analyzed by the equipment in the whole financial year in question.