Kemsa manager tried to stop inflated supplies but was overruled - Beaking Kenya News

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Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Kemsa manager tried to stop inflated supplies but was overruled


One of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority managers attempted to stop the purchase of unnecessary Covid-19 items at inflated prices in April but was overruled. 

The authority was still procuring Covid-19 supplies in July even when it was clear they would not be needed, documents presented to senators and seen by the Star show.

Kemsa procured items worth Sh7.6 billion despite having an approval of only Sh758.6 million budget. 

It is now stuck with Sh6.2 billion worth of goods for which it is seeking MPs' help to dispose of. 

Director of commercial services Eliud Muriithi, who appeared before senators last week, had raised queries on some of the purchases and inflated prices. 

In an official email dated April 24, Muriithi appears to warn other Kemsa directors against purchasing Covid-19 supplies at high prices. 

"Due to increased availability, including local manufacturing of some of the products such as surgical masks, we must review buying prices for the sake of good order," he said.

"I am cognisant of the fact that we have closed the window for procurement of most of the Covid-19 products but in the unlikely event, please, note that the trading price (bulk procurement) for the following products, surgical masks: Sh3,500, infrared thermometers: Sh10,000." 

However, on July 2, procurement director Charles Juma, in an email to Muriithi and Jackline Mainye, said direct procurement had already been initiated and progressed.

"As a result, therefore, we kindly request you to prepare procurement plan of the items listed and submit the same to CEO for approval," Juma said in a letter dated July 14.

But Muriithi refused. According to the letter presented to senators, Muriithi was asked to raise the requisition for the some items. On July 17, he sought to know from the procurement director under which budget the items were.

The procurement queries are at the centre of an investigation by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission following concerns that the taxpayer could have lost money in inflated tenders.

In his submission to the Senate on September 4, Muriithi says his department is only involved at the tail end after procurement and delivery of goods.

"The procurement directorate would then consolidate a list of deliveries made as confirmed by the operations directorate and prepare requisitions for my signature," he told senators.

"I therefore wish to firmly state that the commercial directorate was not involved in the identification of suppliers, issuance of letters of intent and commitment letters, negotiation of prices, the formalities of receiving deliveries, cross checking quantities, quality and developing the schedule of supplies."

He is among managers suspended by the board last month, the others being  Juma and CEO Jonah Manjari. The Kemsa board appointed operations director Edward Njoroge as acting CEO.

George Walukana and Edward Buluma were also appointed to serve as acting commercial director and acting procurement director respectively.

Muriithi told the senators that his department would not know if Kemsa undertook a prices survey before undertaking procurement of Covid-19 supplies.

"The procurement director is best placed to respond as these are issues that would normally be explained in the professional opinion prepared by the head of procurement and submitted to an accounting officer," he said. 

At least five politicians, top government officials and directors of 50 companies linked to the Kemsa scandal are expected to be questioned at the EACC headquarters in Nairobi.

The Star has established that the commission is pursuing politicians from both the ruling Jubilee and the Opposition.

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