How MPs were convinced to pass money for Hoima Stadium

Parliament during a sitting. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

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Legislators are therefore concerned that this also risks being a leakage for taxpayers' money considering there is no competitive bidding and hence no value for money.

PARLIAMENT. Officials from National Council of Sports (NCS) had a torrid period defending inconsistent construction sum figures for the Hoima stadium passed by the government under questionable circumstances.

Legislators, while processing the Shs14tr corrigendum (additional) budget that pushed the 2024/25 Shs58.3tr national budget to Shs72.13tr that was recently endorsed by Parliament, were displeased to learn that Ministry of Education and Sports had settled for a construction sum for the said project through a questionable process.

Lawmakers on the budget committee chaired by Patrick Isiagi Opolot were concerned that two different total figures for the same project had been put before them and the whole House in just a space of just hours.

This happened when the chairman of the National Council of Sports (NCS) Ambrose Tashobya appeared before the same committee to convince MPs to endorse Shs117b as part of the US$4129m (about Shs493b) as the total construction sum for Hoima Stadium. 

Tashobya was requested that the Shs117b be accommodated in the Shs14tr corrigendum.

He said the Shs117b would be used to kick-start construction works of the Hoima Stadium as part of the required projects that Uganda has to deliver for the successful 2027 Africa Cup of Nations joint bid with Kenya and Tanzania.

This, however, triggered trouble after MPs discovered that the previous day, the same entity had in the Shs288.624b supplementary budget to the 2023/24 financial year received Shs152b as 30 per cent of the total sum of the construction of the same stadium, something that Tashobya didn't accommodate in his fresh request.

This would therefore translate into Shs506b as per the request that the State Minister for Finance in charge of General Duties Henry Musasizi presented in the supplementary budget that had been processed by the same committee the previous day.

"What the Minister has presented here is coming from you. That is Shs152b as a 30 per cent advance, so what is the whole, isn't it Shs506b. That is what you should be speaking," Isiagi told Tashobya.

In reaction, Tashobya said: "For me the document that I have, that is a draft contract from Summa which is right being looked into by the technical from the ministry of works is US$129m."

This prompted the Woman MP of Amolatar District Agnes Apea to attempt to halt debate on the matter when she said "Are we really proceeding right to discuss an amount which does not correlate with the contract sum of what the presenter is presenting to us?"

However, Isiagi ruled that the debate be sustained to inform the committee's decision on the matter.

"If we don't discuss, how shall we reach a conclusion? So we must discuss and then we shall decide what to do. We must also keep our figures on record."

Further deliberations on the said subject unearthed more irregularities. For instance, it was discovered that whereas the government had carried two different total contract sum figures to fund the construction of the Hoima Stadium, no binding contract had been inked between the government and Summa Company, Turkish firm.

"So do you have an authentically endorsed agreement between the government and the contractor?" Isiagi inquired from Tashobya who in response revealed that "the agreement is yet to be signed." 

Legislators are therefore concerned that this also risks being a leakage for taxpayers' money considering there is no competitive bidding and hence no value for money.

"The point we raise is that there was no competitive bidding and where there was no competitive bidding, you can't have value for money. So the point we are saying is that we can build the stadium but the question is [about] a 20,000 seater at US4129m has no value for money," the Otuke County MP Paul Omara said.

The same was also equally questioned by the former Leader of Opposition (LOP)-turned Commissioner of Parliament Mathias Mpuuga.

"What are you asking this House to do in absence of any legally bending undertaking from either party to which these said agreements relate?" Mpuuga asked Tashobya.

NCS chairman Ambrose Tashobya defended the expenditure. PHOTO/MAKHTUM MUZIRANSA 

"There is no agreement that is signed yet. We received a draft agreement or an offer to do this project by Summa which was subjected to Value for money audit and design suitability. The Hon Minister for Education and sports on receiving these documents, sent the documents to the ministry of works to look into two things; if this design is what we need and to check if we would get value for money," Tashobya said.

He added: "A report was presented at the ministry last week and it confirmed the figure but also requested that we must add in other amenities in that stadium. As we speak now, there is a team generating the employer's requirements."

Just before legislators could rule on his submission, Tashobya trashed the Committee's concern on why huge sums of money were being committed to the construction of a 20,000 seater stadium.

"Whether you reduce the stadium to 10,000 or 20,000, the changing rooms stay the same, medical [requirements also stay the same]. So they are core areas. So looking at the sitting capacity alone, does address the issue of the stadium. Having a 20,000 seater is not necessarily a 40,000 seater," Tashobya confidently told MPs.

In an immediate reaction, Herbert Ariko said "Whereas the stadium is a good idea and something that we must support... [We can't accept] the notion to say that we have to look at the facilities inside [to cost the same], if a stadium is 20,000 and another one is 60,000 seater, the changing rooms will be the same. I don't agree. It can't be."

He added: "The fact is [that] once there is a difference in dimension, then there is a difference in the facility there and therefore the costs cannot be related."

 He therefore insisted that the inconsistent figures from the government be integrated.

 "Let us interrogate in detail the unit cost of delivering these stadia because once we have been able to deliver a stadium here, we shall need another one in another place," he said, adding that "why should we lump money which will not go in terms of value for money? Let's not just look at the aspect of supporting the project but let's also look at the aspect of looking at the value for money."

 In the end, the corrigendum was endorsed, later upheld and also approved by the committee of the whole House and hence formed part of the Shs72.13tr budget for the financial year (FY) 2024/25. 

The plenary sitting that passed the Shs72.13b was steered by Speaker Anita Among and sat till 11:43pm.

 It was worth noting that another Shs7.80b is planned as “recurrent funds” to go towards the Mandela National Stadium-Namboole.

Earlier, Shs97.90b was given and fully released as the total contract sum for renovation of the same stadium in a bid to meet minimum standards for Uganda to host international games on its turf.