KAMPALA-UGANDA/NEWSDAY: Government has already spent up to Shs 400 billion on the stalled Lubowa International Specialized Hospital Uganda.
This was revealed by Henry Musasizi, the state minister of Finance and Planning in charge of general duties while appearing before parliament’s finance committee on Wednesday to defend the ministry’s budget for financial year 2022/2023.
Musasizi’s revelation follows the demand by members of parliament to provide an update on the construction of the facility which commenced on March 12, 2019.
According to the financial performance brief for the project, Musasizi indicated that the government paid Shs 234.089 billion in three segments in 2021 while Shs 166.401 billion was paid in two installments in 2022.
This financial year, Musasizi revealed that government will cash out an additional Shs 319 billion, also in two different installments in July 2022. The direct agreement indicates approximately Shs 1.3 trillion as of the final project cost of the hospital.
“The arrangement is that work done at Lubowa is certified by the engineer and ministry of Health and we pay through promissory notes. We have been paying and we have a schedule. We have so far cleared seven promissory notes and any default on this has serious implications. There is an obligation which government cannot avoid paying and that is why we’re saying that this be maintained in the budget because it is a commitment that is already entered into by the government,” said Musasizi.
Ramathan Ggoobi, the permanent secretary and secretary to the Treasury said the cost of the hospital also includes medicines for one year; and training of Ugandan health professionals.
Ggoobi disclosed that the project which was due for commissioning in June 2022, has been extended to September 2024 after excessive rainfall between September 2019 – and January 2020 caused a delay in the implementation of the civil works.
Further, Ggoobi also pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown imposed by the government from March 2020 until January 2022 caused more delays as “efforts to encamp 500 workers on the site were derailed by the continued outbreak of covid-19 among the workers”.
While appearing before the health committee of parliament on Tuesday, Eng George Otim, the acting commissioner of health infrastructure in the ministry of Health shocked MPs when he said that Enrica Pinetti the proprietor of the hospital was not at the site.
Eng Otim, who also doubles as the project manager for Lubowa International Specialized Hospital at the ministry of Finance expressed disappointment that he has not been able to supervise the works at the site because the government failed to allocate funds for the project.
“Government has not provided any funding for the supervision of that construction work. There is no supervisor doing the work. I’m the only engineer, I’m the commissioner, I don’t stay at the site to approve work on the day to day basis. I only go when they have called me, I only go when I have got time. We need funding for the recruitment of a consultant or engineers to supervise that work on the day to day basis,” said Otim.
The 264-bed capacity covers 72,000 square metres of government land located in Lubowa, Wakiso district. Upon completion, the multi-complex facility is expected to save the government from an annual seepage of Shs 258 billion it spends on medical tourism overseas.
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