Health Ministry asks for more Shs2.7b for Lubowa hospital  

Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng

What you need to know:

  • Accountability: Lawmakers have expressed concern over the completion of the  Lubowa hospital project, which is 21 months late. 

The  Ministry of Health has tabled a Shs31.8 billion supplementary budget that is purposed to finance five additional items, including  the International Specialised Hospital, Lubowa, in the National Budget for Financial Year 2023/2024.
Requests tabled by the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, show that Shs2.7  billion will be spent on the supervision of the works at Lubowa hospital,  Shs8 billion will clear outstanding allowances for covid-19 staff and, Shs11.5 billion will settle court awards to the Sino Africa medicines. 

“Our prayer to the committee is to request you [MPs] to approve the supplementary schedules Shs31.8 billion for settling obligations as I listed for the five items,” Dr Aceng told members of the Health Committee at Parliament yesterday.
The request comes at a time Parliament is in the advanced stages of finalising the final draft of the Budge Framework Paper (BFP) 2023/2023 for which input from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) had already been captured. 
Legislators queried why the ministry had presented the items at the initial stages of processing the BFP, which was tabled in Parliament in December. 
Some committee members demanded justification for the Lubowa hospital project which they said has stalled. 

“I really wonder what the Shs2.7 billion is going to be used for if the activity that has come is just supervision. Someone would wonder how much supervision will go on when there isn’t anything there as construction,” the Mubende Woman MP, Ms Hope Grania Nakazibwe, said.
In 2019, Parliament approved a government  of $379 million (about Shs 1.4 triillion at the time)  for the construction of the 264 bed capacity hospital in Lubowa, along Kampala-Entebbe highway.

 Kazo  County MP Dan Kimosho (left) and  Mubende Woman MP Hope Grania Nakazibwe during an engagement between Ministry of Health officials and the Committee on Health at Parliament in Kampala on March 9, 2023. Photo/David Lubowa

Italian investor Enrica Pinetti’s firm,   Finasi/Roko Construction Ltd, took over the project site at Lubowa on June 10, 2019.

The committee chairperson, Dr Charles Ayume, concurred with the lawmakers,  saying no funds would be approved for the Lubowa project. 
Dr Ayume, also the Koboko Municipality MP,  added: “I think the issue of Lubowa is brain-dead, we just have to plug off the life support and we escort it to the mortuary in my opinion as the chairperson of the committee.”
Ms Nakazibwe also said the government should prioritise settling arrears of frontline staff who worked as the country struggled to contain the spread of the Ebola virus disease last year.
Meanwhile, MPs were in support of the requests to cover the outstanding arrears for the Covid-19 staff, but they asked the ministry to provide a detailed payment schedule for the said staff as proof and basis for the clearance of the particular request.

The lawmakers also said the supplementary budget did not include the demands at the Mulago National Referral Hospital.
In response, Dr Aceng revealed that the matter was originally on the schedule but it had been revised by the Ministry of Finance.
To this end, committee chairperson Dr Ayume ruled that the Ministry of Health extracts details of specific areas that are in dire need of redress and improvement at Mulago hospital for the committee to consider.

Approval deferred
Deliberations on the matter were yesterday deferred by the committee chairperson after lawmakers demanded specific details about the items on the schedule and supportive documents.
 Some of the documents ministry officials must provide include paperwork about the court awards to the Sino Africa medicines and the payment schedules for the Covid-19 staff. 
Lawmakers said they need the documents in follow-up sessions as they deliberate and decide on the matter.
 The committee will reconvene today to deliberate on the particulars of the requests, on condition they have been availed the specific documents .