KAMPALA – State Minister for Finance, in charge of General Duties, Henry Musasizi revealed to parliament on Thursday how Ugx22bn had been released to the Ministry of Health to cater for deployment of the interns.
However Health Minister Ruth Aceng hurriedly noted that Ugx22bn was peanut – clarifying that the released funds wasn’t meant for the deployment of the 1901 pre-medical interns, but rather to pay off arrears of the 935 doctors who completed training in April this year.
“For the 1901 interns, we require Ugx80.4bn to deploy them and out of that money, Finance gave us Ugx8bn for interns and Ugx2bn for senior house officers. So we are not able to deploy [interns] until we are sure that the Ugx80.4bn will be provided,” she noted.
Earlier on the same day, Musasizi had given his Ugx22bn report during the plenary sitting – in reaction to the Speaker, of Parliament Anita Among’s demand about the payment and deployment of 1,900 medical interns.
“I am requesting that these interns that we promised on Budget day should be paid and deployed. I am yet to hear from the Minister of Finance…how far? If you pay for somebody for four years and don’t go through internship…that person cannot practice as a doctor. Let’s help these people, they need to do internship,” said Among.
She added that government needed a plan for the 1,900 intern doctors and the 4,000 that are incoming.
“We need an update on what plans you have as the government on the 4,000 incoming interns…but I need an immediate response from the Minister of Finance on the 1,900 interns. Has the money gone…now that we are crossing into the new financial year, we don’t want that money returned,” added Among.
In response, Musasizi said that the funding gap of Ugx22bn for medical interns has been released.
“I want to confirm that the cash limit was issued to the Ministry of Health and cash has also been given. Madam Speaker, I wish to inform this House that I am very happy that now we will have all the money to close the financial year and it has come late…implying that we shall not close until June 30,” said the Minister.
He also said that all government entities have up to June 30, 2023 to clear all the invoices for the financial year 2022/2023 which have been outstanding in the system.
Among tasked the Minister to avail evidence that the money has been forwarded to the Ministry of Health.
She also encouraged the Executive to have a stakeholders’ engagement on the issue of interns for better planning.
“As you encourage people to do sciences, you must have a provision for money to pay for those sciences. So you need to call for a stakeholders meeting and then agree on what should be done as we plan for those people who are already out there,” advised Among.