Parliament’s Budget Committee has tasked the Ministry of Finance to come up with a budget towards the refurbishment of Mandela National Stadium -Namboole in the coming financial year 2021/2022.
Namboole is Uganda’s only national stadium of international standard and it is supervised by the Ministries of Finance and that of Education and Sports.
According to the Budget Committee Vice Chairperson Patrick Isiagi, Namboole must be government’s first priority in the Sports sector considering its dilapidated state and that there should be a clear plan to refurbish it to international standard.
Isiagi said that his committee is determined to convince parliament not to approve money for the sports sector if there is no inclusion of the stadium refurbishment budget.
The MPs sounded the ultimatum as State Minister of Planning David Bahati together with the State Minister of Sports Dennis Hamson Obua and the Namboole Stadium Managing Director Jamil Sewanyana Mpagi were today interfacing with the committee.
These had appeared to seek approval for a 1.451 billion Shillings supplementary budget to cater for the outstanding recurrent costs in order to sustain the stadium operations for the financial year 2020/2021. Following the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020, President Yoweri Museveni declared the stadium as the Non-traditional Isolation and Treatment facility for the Covid-19 patients and was effectively taken over by Ministry of Health.
According to Sewanyana, the takeover led to the stadium losing its regular revenue streams from the sport and non-sports activities. He said that the stadium lost its rental revenue which it would have used to meet its staff, administrative and operational costs.
“Despite the lockdown and take over, management continued to perform the routine maintenance of the facilities like the pitches, lawn, electrical and water installation and the stadium buildings that the Ministry of Health was not taking care of,” said Sewanyana adding that they are not able to meet its outstanding costs for the period July 2020 to June 2021.
According to Sewanyana, staff costs for a period of 12 months require 1.122 billion Shillings, board costs for 6 months require 144.3 million while utility arrears and maintenance for a period of 6 months will take 185.4 million.
Bahati said that the Ministry of Health is paying current bills for the specific part being used while Namboole management is catering for arrears for other bills and staff salaries. In regard to the refurbishment of the stadium, Bahati said that his Ministry is willing to work with that of Education and Sports to ensure that funds are provided.
Sports minister Hamson Obua told MPs that they had made some progress and that the Stadium has its own land title. He also noted that government has already committed to the refurbishment of the stadium. According to Obua, an assessment report in regard to this plan has already been made and availed to the Minister of Education and Sports Janet Museveni.
MP Isiagi said that his committee only awaits to see action when the Education and Sports Ministry presents a policy statement with a budget to refurbish the stadium.
Kumi County MP Charles Illukor said that the Finance Ministry should as well incorporate more funds in the expected refurbishment budget for Namboole in order to cater for other costs since still Covid-19 is still around.
Isiagi noted that the Budget Committee supports sports activities as long as the responsible officials show seriousness in making sure that the country’s sports facilities are well catered for.