KAMPALA – Parliament on Tuesday approved the construction of the specialised hospital in Lubowa, Wakiso District amid strong opposition from a section of MPs.
The government seeks to borrow USD379.7m (UGX 1.3 trillion) that will be given to an investor to construct the hospital that government says will be for treatment of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
When the loan request came up for debate and approval on Tuesday, MPs William Nzoghu (Busongora North MP), Betty Nambooze (Mukono Municipality) and Bernard Atiku (Ayivu County) presented a minority report, opposing the loan request, insisting that the amount was inflated.
“According to documents submitted by the Ministry of Finance, the total project cost breakdown is $ 249.9m with no tax payment component. However, the financing for which government is seeking Parliamentary approval is $379.7m thus on an increment of $ 129.83 million, which is 52% of the original estimated cost,” the minority report indicated.
The MPs in the minority report also argued the land on which the project is to be allocated is under dispute by a Buganda Royal family.
“Now that the said land is the subject of dispute and its legal status is still unresolved, we risk litigation and might be forced to forfeit the investment thereon altogether,” the report warned.
However, in response, Lands minister Betty Amongi explained that disputes over the hospital land were resolved in court and that the land is now free from any encumbrances.
The chairman of the Health Committee, Mr Michael Bukenya, also defended the loan request, indicating that about 5000 Ugandans travel to India for treatment outside the medical board.
“Each Ugandan going to India goes with at least $25,000 to $30, 000, excluding transport and the person accompanying them. This is about Shs200b per year for India alone without considering those who go to Kenya and South Africa,” Mr Bukenya said.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga read a letter by President Museveni supporting the request to approve funds for the specialised hospital that will comprise of a264-bed specialized Healthcare Facility with an 80-bed oncology centre, in addition to Doctors and Nurses school and accommodation.
When the matter was put to vote, the majority supported it.