A Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Research and Training In Africa
Inorder to emphasize its independence, and the intention to be sustainable through financial self-support, and to be fully transparent in its financial management, the BRTI was registered as a non-profit making company in Zimbabwe, under Section 22 of the Companies Act with Directors who were committed to the aims and objectives of BRTI. Through this Act, the Directors are responsible to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for the financial activities of BRTI. This requires the submission of annual audited accounts, and the BRTI employs an international firm of auditors to provide this. A Management Board, with membership from scientific, research and business fields in Zimbabwe provides oversight and direction.
The day to day administration of the institute is through the Director-General and the Assistant Director-General who implement decisions taken by the Management Board. Support is given to the Management Board by the Scientific Committee, Finance Committee, Management Committee and the Laboratory Committee. The Management Board meets quarterly to review financial matters and to set policy on the advice of the different sub-committees.
In accordance with requirements of the Act under which the BRTI is founded, there are no fees payable to Directors or Management Board members. Members of the Management Board may receive an allowance for attendance at meetings (set at the allowance given by similar national bodies in Zimbabwe), and where possible an allowance for work carried out on specific activities or projects. Apart from these allowances, the members of the Board provide their time, expertise and energy entirely voluntarily.
BRTI INCOME GENERATION
The administration of research grants on behalf of local and international scientists. This includes, for example, taking responsibility for payments of salaries, income tax, medical insurance, pensions etc. of staff employed through a project. Office space is made available to projects administered through BRTI. The BRTI ensures prompt payment for equipment, reagents and supplies and arranges insurance cover. For this service, the BRTI normally charges an overhead of 10% of research costs, though this may be adjusted with the permission of the Management Board.
The design and delivery of training courses. As noted above, training courses have to be financially self-sustaining, through the imposition of a course fee. Included in this fee is the overhead charge for administrative support. Actual course fees vary depending on the duration of the course and the materials that are used. Laboratory courses, for example, are more expensive because of the reagents that are used. Again the fee is subject to negotiation, and allowances can be made under certain circumstances.
In addition to courses, the BRTI also provides a service for organization and administration of conferences and workshops both large and small. This includes travel arrangements, accommodation for delegates, venue bookings, provision of audio-visual aids as well as bags, stationery and other promotional material. Again an overhead is charged for these services.
The laboratory of the BRTI provides support, on a cost recovery basis, for laboratory investigations in research. The majority of investigations are in the field of serology, bacteriology and nucleic acid techniques, though areas such as haematology and clinical chemistry can also be arranged. The current laboratories of BRTI are centered at the National Institute for Health Research-former Blair Research (Microbiology and Serology) and the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory (TB Laboratory), emphasizing the commitment of BRTI to supporting local institutions wherever possible.
Financial accounts of individual projects, courses and conferences administered by BRTI can be provided at times agreed with investigators or sponsors of research. BRTI policy is that each project is allocated a separate bank account, so that regular reports and reconciliations can be prepared easily. In addition the BRTI produces audited accounts on an annual basis through an international firm of accountants. The BRTI uses Pastel for its accounting package, and the Finance Manager is responsible for the smooth operation of all accounts, with Finance Officers being assigned to specific projects to ensure consistency.
Zimbabwe now uses a “basket” of international currencies for all financial transactions, and BRTI maintains accounts in commercial banks in US$ (the normal currency), UK Pound and Euro.