Kemsa spent Sh5.1bn without Health ministry approval - Beaking Kenya News

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Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Kemsa spent Sh5.1bn without Health ministry approval


Kemsa bosses spent Sh5.1 billion in procuring Covid-19 items without approval of the Health ministry, PS Susan Mochache has revealed.

The PS told MPs that in a meeting on March 18, the ministry resolved to buy 25,000 PPE, 10,000 KN95 face masks and 6,000 Covid-19 testing kits.

A day later the ministry conveyed to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority a decision to purchase additional 6,000 laboratory test kits.

Instead of this, Kemsa procured 1.6 million KN95 face masks, 9,900 N95 face masks as well as 5,000 of another category of mask known as N95 (1860).

Kemsa also acquired 21,646 infrared thermometers, 126,000 PPE, 32,190 face shields, 26,000 pairs of goggles, 126,700 50-pack surgical gloves and 2,190 50-pack gloves.

Also procured were 330,000 500-ml hand sanitiser, 75 ventilators and 21 million three-ply disposable masks.

Mochache told the National Assembly's Public Investments Committee that she was shocked to learn that the Kemsa bosses had bypassed the ministry and overshot the budget.

Suspended Kemsa CEO Jonah Manjari on June 2 wrote to Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani requesting for Sh5.1 billion funding to cater for the excess items.

The PS told the committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir that she was at a loss about the "stakeholders" Kemsa management referred to in their letter to Yatani.

The agency ended up sourcing Covid-19 response items for Sh7 billion in less than three weeks, and is reportedly still receiving some bits despite the directive by investigative agencies looking into the purchases.

Mochache told PIC that the ministry only approved purchases of Sh758 million as communicated to Kemsa on March 18.  

“We learned that they had mobilised emergency supplies worth Sh5.1 billion after the Treasury PS wrote to me on the budget request,” she told the committee.

The PS added that the list which specified the items to be bought and the companies which were to supply them was from Kemsa.

“The document was first from them. I didn’t instruct Kemsa on what to buy, where and at how much,” she said.

The PS said that the ministry on April 6 learned that Kemsa had procured items worth Sh2.1 billion, most of which were not in the approved list.

“Kemsa was asked to rationalise the budget to align it with what the ministry had been allocated for PPE, which was Sh758 million,” the PS explained.

Lawmakers queried why the ministry did not stop further purchases at that stage, having realised there was no budget for the items.

MPs Nassir, T.J Kajwang (Ruaraka), Babu Owino (Embakasi East), Mary Wamaua (Maragua), Julius Melly (Tinderet), Rahab Mukami (Nyeri), Esther Passaris (Nairobi), Abdisalan Ibrahim (Wajir North) and Omar Maalim (Mandera East) raised questions on what may have motivated Kemsa to act in the manner it did.

Kajwang asked why the ministry did not question how Kemsa managed to adjust their Sh2.1 billion supplies proposal to fit the Sh758 million budget.

He asked whether it was the PS’s statutory duty to approve procurement of any nature at an independent agency.

Nassir said the grant question is why Kemsa proceeded with sourcing goods after the supplies were flagged in an internal memo which stated that the purchases had stretched to Sh4 billion.

 “Why did they continue receiving goods after the internal memo by procurement director Charles Juma 23 days that commitment letters had got to Sh3.9 billion? They even committed another Sh2 billion in total disregard of the resolutions of a meeting with ministry,” the MP noted.

“Even after the April 24 memo by Juma, the figure shot to Sh7 billion. We have information that the management is still receiving goods. On whose authority and advisory was this done? Was there a needs assessment?” Nassir asked.

Mochache said: “I am baffled. The law is clear that you don't spend what you don't have and on how procurement should be undertaken no matter what circumstances. I am equally perplexed they were looking for money retrospectively.”

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