Lubowa hospital contractor overpaid by Shs64 billion

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Lubowa hospital contractor overpaid by Shs64 billion
Lubowa Specialised Hospital | Courtesy

The project has been at a standstill since 2015 and the Auditor General's report, which is set to be presented to Parliament, shows that the project is valued at $57,477,000 (about Shs222 billion) yet Finansi had been paid Shs286 billion.

KAMPALA | The government has overpaid the controversial Lubowa Specialized Hospital contractor, Finansi International, a staggering Shs64 billion in excess, with no tangible work to show for it.

The project has been at a standstill since 2015 and the Auditor General's report, which is set to be presented to Parliament, shows that the project is valued at $57,477,000 (about Shs222 billion) yet Finansi had been paid Shs286 billion.

This glaring disparity reveals a gross overpayment and raises serious questions about accountability and oversight.

According to Muwanga Kivumbi, the auditor general, despite the government disbursing eight promissory notes amounting to a total of Shs476.5 billion, the progress on the project stands at a mere 23%.

Adding to the intrigue is the revelation that an addendum to the project works agreement resulted in a reduction in the hospital's bed capacity and building area, yet the project funding remained unchanged at $379.71 million.

Such discrepancies cast doubt on the transparency and management of the project.

Furthermore, the issuance of milestone certificates based solely on reports from the contractor, while the Ministry of Health was barred from accessing the project, raises concerns about the integrity of the monitoring process.

Former State Minister for Health, Sarah Opendi, expressed bewilderment at the situation, emphasizing the substantial payments made, including Shs 2.7 billion for supervision, with little progress to show for it.

"It remains a mystery; so much has been paid up. In fact, Shs2.7 billion was given for supervision," Opendi said.

Opposition voices, such as Ibrahim Ssemujju, the Shadow Minister for Finance, have long voiced skepticism about the project, questioning the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding its execution.

"A loan was committed on behalf of Ugandans, but ministers deemed to be powerful fear to talk about the project," lamented Ssemujju.

Dr Charles Ayume, the chairperson of the Health Committee of Parliament, echoed these sentiments, advocating for a cost-benefit analysis to determine the project's viability compared to alternative investments in healthcare services.

"The government should have done a cost-benefit analysis; the same could have served purpose if invested in equipping the health services," Ayume said.

As the government grapples with the fallout from this scandal, the fate of Lubowa Specialized Hospital remains uncertain.

With calls for accountability growing louder, the spotlight is firmly fixed on those responsible for overseeing this costly endeavour.

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