Gov’t Asked to Halt Construction of Stalled UGX.1.44 Trillion Lubowa Specialized Hospital

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Parliament has called for the halting of the construction of the Shs1.44 trillion Lubowa Specialised Hospital due to the skyrocketing public debt.

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 $379.71 million (about Shs 1.44 trillion).

The project was launched in 2019 on a two-year contract; the contractor is supposed to handover the project to the government within 10 years; however, they are not on schedule.

Earlier, the Health Committee rejected a supplementary request of Shs2.7 billion by the Ministry of Health to supervise the construction of the Lubowa International Specialised Hospital, tasking the ministry to present the status of the hospital.

The country’s public debt as of June 30, 2023, stood at Shs 96 trillion. The domestic debt stock stands at Shs 43.6 trillion, while the external debt is Shs 52.4 trillion. The public debt has increased by 107% in the last five years.

“You are very aware that our economy isn’t very healthy. You saw the Auditor General’s report; our national debt is about Shs97 trillion, and I am not sure where we shall get money for some of these projects. But we also thought that we could suppress any new infrastructure projects, including Lubowa, and complete what is at stake because some of them need Shs 2 billion or Shs 3 billion. So, the Ministry of Finance, can you find us this small amount of money? We aren’t coming to you for big projects,” Dr Ayume Charles, the chairperson of the Health Committee of Parliament, said.

Minister of Health, Jane Aceng, defended the recent request for additional Shs2.7 billion for supervising works at Lubowa Hospital, saying that the funds will facilitate the movement of the consortium of engineers from the Ministry of Works and Ministry of Health to supervise works after the new contractor takes over the site because the government didn’t allocate any funds for consultancy services.

“For those two years when there were no works, there was no supervision; now work has to commence, and there must be supervision. And recall, there was a lot of building material that was bought and is on the ground; we need to know if it is of good use. Whether the contractor can still use them is all that is required. So leaving the contractor to go on the ground alone would be disastrous to us,” Aceng said.

She said money has never been provided for supervision at Lubowa Hospital, even when they have completed the hostels; those ones were supervised by our engineers at the Ministry of Health. This money (Shs2.7Bn) is being provided because now there is a contractor on the ground, and that contractor is expected to start work. I haven’t been there myself to see if they have started, but the engineers have to report on the ground.

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