Members of Parliament on the Health Committee have rejected a supplementary request of Shs2.7 billion by the Ministry of Health to supervise the construction of the Lubowa International Specialized hospital tasking the ministry to present the status of the hospital.
While presenting their request during the meeting with the committee on Thursday, the ministry requested that the supplementary budget be drawn from the US$ 10 million reimbursed by the World Bank to the Government of Uganda for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines.
Legislators said it was unwise to approve such a request when there is no proof of any developments at the Lubowa Hospital site.
“Ever since we visited the Lubowa Hospital site, to date we have never received any feedback on where we are on this Shs14 trillion project that raised the hopes of Ugandans,” said Obongi County MP George Bokha Didi.
Butaleja District MP Florence Nebanda (NRM, said the delayed implementation of the Lubowa project has caused mistrust from the public regarding government’s commitment and interest in the project.
“The project was launched in 2019 on a two-year contract; the contractor is supposed to hand over the project to the government within 10 years but they are not on schedule and seem unbothered and we do not see value for money,” she said.
The Minister for Health, Jane Ruth Aceng, who could not disclose to the committee whether there were ongoing works at Lubowa said her ministry was mandated to carry out supervisory roles which were never budgeted for.
“When we are constructing a hospital, we normally have supervisors as consultants; we can either hire a consultancy firm or get a consortium of engineers. We were told that there was no money for hiring a firm; the money we are requesting is to facilitate a consortium of contractors,” said Aceng.
She added that by the time the ministry engineers came in to supervise the project, the foundation of the hospital had been laid.
In March 2019, parliament approved the request by the Ministry of Finance to issue promissory notes for the construction of Lubowa Hospital to the tune of $379.71m (about Shs 1.393 trillion).
In the financial year 2021/2022, the accountant general revealed that the developer had earlier been given Shs 348.212 billion bringing the total to Shs 667.765 billion. At the time, developer, Enrica Pinetti promised to construct the hospital in two years, and later manage the hospital for six years before the hospital reverts to the government. But four years down the road, there is no progress.
In a related development, the minister also requested the committee to approve a Shs14.7 billion supplementary budget for the ongoing rehabilitation of Mulago National Referral Hospital whose works commenced in 2013.
The ministry also requested Shs3.6 billion for the rehabilitation and expansion of Busolwe Hospital, Shs6 billion for the repair and maintenance of oxygen plants said to have been overworked during the Covid-19 pandemic, and Shs8 billion to clear outstanding allowances for Covid-19 staff.