The Minister of State for Primary Health Care, Joyce Moriku Kaducu has assured Parliament that government has lined up 28 companies to consider for the manufacture of face masks in the country.
This she noted after several legislators raised concerns over government’s decision to award monopoly powers to Nytil textile company to produce the face masks.
On Monday, President Yoweri Museveni said further easing of the lockdown will be pegged on everyone wearing a face mask in public. He said each Ugandan above the age of 6 will be given a free mask.
Production the masks is expected to be completed in the next two weeks.
Rujumbura county MP, Fred Turyamuhweza asked government to explain how Nytil was picked to manufacture facemasks and wondered why government did not just set standards to allow other companies to produce them.
On his part, Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi wondered why many other Ugandans in the informal sector who are working extremely hard to produce face masks to earn a living but more importantly to contribute in the fight against coronavirus, have been left out in the procurement.
Kawempe North MP, Latif Sebaggala cast doubt in the ability by government to distribute masks across the entire country within two weeks.
“I do not think it will be possible to distribute masks around the whole country in two weeks. Let the government allow people to move with the masks they have purchased for themselves,” Ssebagala said.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga noted that the procurement of masks should be made transparent and all producers should be left to compete without favoritism.
“Now that govt is to provide masks to Ugandans, I seek to know how ordinary companies & young people making masks can benefit. The issue of equity in the procurement of masks should be clear and transparent. If Nytil is good, let it compete with other companies,” Kadaga said.
Responding to concerns raised by MPs, Moriku noted that government plans to follow the normal procedure used in procuring all public goods adding that this morning they have started discussions with 28 eligible companies to manufacture these face masks.
However some of the members of parliament noted that this is going to leave out a number of Ugandans who have already been making these masks while others demanded to know whether face masks from pharmacies could also be clarified as quality masks so that people can use them to start performing their duties.
Moriku thus requested to be allowed time to appear before Parliament with a comprehensive statement on the matter tomorrow after the presidential address scheduled to night.