The parliamentary education committee has approved a Shs 529 billion loan for the ministry of Education to construct schools in several sub-counties.
According to the ministry, 116 schools will be constructed, out of which, 84 schools will be in non-refugee hosting districts while 32 new schools in the refugee-hosting districts. At least 61 existing schools in refugee-hosting districts will also be expanded.
Of the total funding of $150 million, $90 million is a loan and a grant of $60 million from the International Development Association of the World Bank.
The committee chaired by Kibaale county MP Cuthbert Abigaba also cleared the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) engineering brigade to construct the schools, but with strict adherence to the law.
As the committee considered its reports on Monday, members expressed mixed concerns over the recent directive that was given to the army by President Museveni.
According to Busia Municipality MP Geoffrey Macho, the recommendation that the UPDF is allowed to construct the schools as long as they follow the law does not hold, saying that other contractors should be considered.
Abigaba however says although it is a presidential directive, the right procedures should be followed by the army. Brenda Nabukenya, Luwero Woman MP says that the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) be followed to avoid giving the army blanket clearance.
“There is a directive from the president, we’re privy to it and aware but actually we have existing laws. We have PPDA and that must be followed and also the other applicable laws in respect to procurement, to contractors…My issue was we must make statements in the report very clear to indicate that we would require the UPDF brigade to also follow the PPDA laws and also be qualified as a contractor if it is possible. But there is also a legal lacuna, its a government entity, how are you going to sue it once maybe they don’t respect the terms of the contract that are given to them.” said Nabukenya.
Among the other recommendations of the committee, is that a new mapping for sub-counties without schools be done since government is currently relying on the 2015 mapping which may is invalid.
The committee also agreed that for the construction of schools to happen in the sub-counties, there should be a memorandum of understanding so that there are no conflicts in the future. The report will now go before the national economy committee which will scrutinize the loan.