Kadaga calls for an investigation into Lubowa hospital funds

Parliament has started investigating reports that more than Shs 140 billion set aside for the construction of the Lubowa International Specialized Hospital has gone missing.

In March this year, Parliament approved a guarantee of $379 million (Shs 1.4 trillion) for the construction of the Hospital in Lubowa, Wakiso district. The project is a brainchild of Enrica Pinetti an Italian investor of Finasi Roko Construction SPV Limited, an entity which specializes in the construction of turnkey health care facilities is behind the project.

The Ugandan government agreed to finance the firm to construct and run the specialized facility and payback within eight years from the commencement of operations.

The facility with a 264-bed specialized Healthcare capacity will be operated as a world-class internationally accredited facility to treat conditions for which Ugandans have been travelling abroad. The conditions include cancer treatment, heart diseases, organ transplant, fertility treatment, highly specialized surgeries, and bone marrow transplant, among others.

Soroti Municipality MP Herbert Ariko told Parliament on Wednesday that on May 16, the East and Southern Development Bank released Shs 327 billion which was transferred to Stanbic Bank but by the time it reached Stanbic Bank, it had mysteriously reduced to Shs 188 billion.

This, Ariko said, meant that Shs 140 billion ($ 37 million) of Shs 327 billion ($ 87 million) has already gone missing.

An artistic impression of Lubowa International Specialised Hospital

He asked parliament to monitor and evaluate the hospital project step by step and review the owners Engineer Francis Wakabi whose contract is still running despite a recommendation for its termination.

“So far work has begun, where has the $37 million gone? Madam Speaker, this parliament required a strict schedule of disbursement of this money, can we request the minister of Health to provide this Parliament with a strict breakdown of signatories and disbursement of this money? Madam Speaker, secondly, the committee did not get to interface with the direct implementers of the project that is Finasi International and Roko Construction,” said Ariko.

The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga asked the Health committee of Parliament to invite the investor to explain the shortfall. She also asked the government to give a detailed schedule on the plan for the construction of the hospital and its phases.

“Our work is not just on budgeting, but we are supposed to be monitoring those sectors and even on our own, we can cause a meeting. So can we ask the committee on Health to actually invite those [contractors]? I also heard that they did not come to defend the proposal here. So can we ask the committee on Health to invite them to give us an update at the earliest opportunity and also the minister of Finance and give us the timelines for the actual action plans,” Kadaga said.