BAILOUT! Parliament ‘gifts’ shs70Bn to bizman Magoola to boost his Pharmaceutical plant

Efforts by a section of Opposition MPs to warn Parliament against ‘gifting’ businessman Mathias Magoola with Shs70Bn to establish a Pharmaceutical Factory in Matugga-Wakiso district on grounds that the cost of the project had been inflated by Shs1.862Trn were Friday thwarted by NRM lawmakers who voted to have the funds approved.

The warning was disclosed by Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County) while presenting to Parliament the minority report to the 2023/2024 national budget, on behalf of his counterparts; Ssemujju Nganda (Kira Municipality), Anna Adeke (Soroti DWR), Gorethe Namugga (Mawogola South) and Lulume Bayiga (Buikwe South) who signed the report.

According to the minority report, the Government through the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations under the auspice of the State House requested for Shs70Bn to be allocated to Dei Biopharma Factory in Matugga to establish a pharmaceutical plant.

Businessman, Mathias Magoola the Managing Director of the company informed Parliament’s Budget Committee that the project’s total cost is US$1Bn (about Shs3.7Trn), a revelation that prompted the Opposition MPs to question why Government will continue charging the consolidated fund for a private undertaking for a long period at taxpayers’ expense.

Muwanga remarked, “We submit that the consolidated fund shouldn’t be used as a lender to all non-bankable idea. If those projects are feasible, and worth supporting, there are many ways through which the government can support them. For instance, that money should be channeled through the Uganda Development Bank or Government can acquire shares in those ventures.”

However, when the Speaker Among put to question whether the Budget of State House that will oversee the project should be approved, the majority of MPs voted in affirmative, meaning taxpayers in Uganda may have to cough out all the Shs3.7Trn for the project.

The Opposition also revealed that even if the Government was to facilitate the establishment of this Pharmaceutical facility, US$1Bn is a high scale for such a facility. Comparatively, a biotechnology firm Moderna is set to build a similar facility in Kenya at a cost of US$500M.

Muwanga also had misgiving about having the project and funds overseen by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations which is already grappling with reports of corruption fraud and mismanagement of funds, citing the 9 existing audit queries including Kira Motors Corporation that is accused of buying 518 hectares of land without notifying and seeking approval of Uganda Land Commission.

He also cited another scenario in the Presidential Initiative on Bananas that was accused of signing contracts to a tune of Shs1.228Bn without approval of the Solicitor General.




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