KEMSA wants permission to sell COVID-19 commodities worth Ksh.6B

KEMSA wants permission to sell COVID-19 commodities worth Ksh.6B
Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) offices. PHOTO| COURTESY

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) says it has COVID-19 commodities worth Ksh.6 billion in its warehouses and is now appealing to Parliament and the Ministry of Health to allow it sell the goods.

While denying any corrupt deals in the beleaguered institution, KEMSA board chair Kembi Gitura on Thursday said they might have bitten more than they could chew when they bought the commodities at a higher price only for them to fall abruptly.

For instance, in April, KEMSA was buying a KN95 mask at Ksh.700 the same mask that is going for approximately Ksh.250 at the market value currently.

KEMSA is now looking at making huge losses when they offload the commodities even as MPs insisted they should be released to Kenyans and especially health workers to protect them.

“We might be vilified that we bought masks at Ksh.900, But the vilifiers are not stopping to ask how much it was costing in March and April and how much its costing now, maybe we were to rush in buying too many of them, maybe, but no one had done a projection of how long the pandemic would last, but we procured in good faith believing that they would move,”Kembi told members of the Health Committee in the National Assembly.

The committee members ordered KEMSA to renegotiate the prices to avoid Kenyans losing billions of shillings but Kembi flatly refused, saying there was no overpricing but only a shift in the market prices.

Kembi was also hard pressed to explain how and why they only awarded certain companies contracts of huge sums of money.

“There is a company called Kilig that we are told got a tender worth Ksh.4 billion, it’s not the documents submitted here, is this a case of KEMSA trying to hide the truth?” posed committee vice chair Joshua Kutuny.

However Kembi told the committee that the company had received a commitment letter, but the tender was later cancelled and they were not paid.

The KEMSA board also revealed that the Public Health PS Susan Mochache wrote to them directing them to contract particular companies and at certain prices.

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