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Makerere tips staff on project financial management

University Bursar-Mr. Evarist Bainomugisha (Front 4th Left), Head Grants Administration and Management Support Unit-Prof. Grace Bantebya (Front 5th Left), University Secretary-Mr. Yusuf Kiranda (Front 6th Left) join other participants in a group photo at the opening of a four-day workshop on Project Financial Management, 23rd March 2022, SFTNB Conference Hall, Makerere University.

University Bursar-Mr. Evarist Bainomugisha (Front 4th Left), Head Grants Administration and Management Support Unit-Prof. Grace Bantebya (Front 5th Left), University Secretary-Mr. Yusuf Kiranda (Front 6th Left) join other participants in a group photo at the opening of a four-day workshop on Project Financial Management, 23rd March 2022, SFTNB Conference Hall, Makerere University.

The Directorate of Finance, Makerere University on 23rd March 2022 embarked on a four-day training aimed at equipping Makerere University Staff with Project Finance Management skills, especially in line with guidelines and regulations of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015.

The training to be held in the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering Conference Hall was officially launched by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, represented by the University Bursar, Mr. Evarist Bainomugisha.

“The Government informed us that all grants must be declared to the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development during the budgeting process. Any grant or project that has not been declared to the Ministry and approved by Parliament is not supposed to be in operation. Following all these developments, Makerere University had to ensure harmonisation with Government programmes. Thus Makerere University put in place the Grants Administration and Management Policy of 2020 as well as the Grants Administration and Management Support Unit (GAMSU)” remarked the Bursar.

Mr. Bainomugisha added that all these developments are aimed at ensuring that public funds entrusted to the University and her staff are properly managed and reported. “And so we have organised this meeting to ensure that you are oriented in these key developments in terms of laws and in terms of the administrative procedures that have been put in place.”

Addressing the role of GAMSU in grants management, the Unit Head Prof. Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo informed participants that one of the reasons for holding the meeting was to facilitate the process of declaring projects that exist in the University, so as to comply with the University policy guidelines and Government requirements.

Prof. Bantebya Kyomuhendo clarified that GAMSU’s role is not to handle finances. “The funds are going to be governed by other structures and systems that deal with funds. However, we are part of the system to make sure that these processes are made easy and fast for us as researchers.”

She shared that GAMSU derives its functions from the Grants Administration and Management policy, with the top three outlined as:

i) Undertake regular mapping and maintain an up-to-date database of grants and funding opportunities and ensure that these opportunities are communicated to faculty and staff in a timely manner;
ii) Ensure that Makerere University is registered with various funding agencies wherever necessary; and
iii) Support faculty and other staff of the University in the preparation of grants applications;
Prof. Bantebya Kyomuhendo said that GAMSU will support researchers and innovators at Pre-Award, Award and Post-Award levels. GAMSU will also look out for donor opportunities and announcements as well as compile information on donors’ and partners’ interests from the submitted projects. These will be compiled and published on quarterly.

The University Secretary Mr. Yusuf Kiranda who was asked to speak about how the Grants Administration and Management Policy can better be understood emphasised that researchers and faculty ought to read and internalise the document.

Mr. Kiranda reiterated that the University’s stature as a Government Institution, implies that all funds received through and in the name of Makerere automatically become public funds, subject to rules and regulations governing resources therein.

“One of the key laws we must know in this regard is the Public Finance Management Act of 2015 as amended. Interestingly this law also discusses in detail the issue of how we manage projects funded by grants, that is under section 44” he said.

Reverting to the Grants Administration and Management Policy, the University Secretary said, “the idea of the policy was to streamline the administration and management of grants across the entire chain from identification to close up.” He emphasised that the spirit behind the policy was to support as opposed to control the grants process.

Mr. Kiranda further outlined the objectives of the Grants Policy as;

i) To establish a framework for grants mobilisation and management within the University;
ii) To create a platform to track and monitor grants within the University;
iii) To establish strategic global partnerships with other institutions with the intent to solicit funds for scholarships, research and infrastructure development;
iv) To provide guidelines through which projects funded by grants link to existing laws, policies and regulations governing Makerere as a Public University;
v) To define the roles of different University officials in the mobilisation, management, and administration of grants at the University.
Prior to introducing BVL Consultants, the firm tasked with training staff on project financial management, the Manager Accounts and Reporting, Mr. Gyaviira Lubowa urged participants to seriously consider the calls to adhere to the Public Finance Management Act and Grants Administration and Management Policy guidelines.

He further tasked them to adhere to timelines for preparation of quarterly reports as raised by Mr. George Turyamureeba, the GAMSU Head of Finance. “George informed you that the University will be expected to produce your quarterly reports within two weeks following the end of the quarter. This implies that your reports ought to be produced latest, within a week after close of the quarter.”

The Team Leader, BVL Consults, Mr. Owor Julius while pointing out issues of best practice that the training will tackle, urged participants to always be cautious about closing out projects. “There should be coordination of financial and non-financial information at this stage.”

The University Bursar concluded the day’s proceedings by thanking all attendees for their participation and ideas, adding that it is up to us as an institution to prove to the Government that we have the capacity to manage grants within the institution’s structures. He pledged the Finance Department’s readiness to continue supporting GAMSU’s sensitization meetings for all colleges and at different units of the university.

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