Senate committee recommends sale of COVID-19 supplies in KEMSA stores to stop further loss


Senate committee recommends sale of COVID-19 supplies in KEMSA stores to stop further loss
File image of the KEMSA offices. PHOTO / COURTESY

The Senate’s standing committee on health that has been probing the KEMSA procurement scandal tabled its report on Wednesday with damning findings on the medical supplies agency.

The committee determined that the products purchased by KEMSA for purposes of containing the COVID-19 pandemic cost the taxpayer Ksh.7.6 billion, with the bulk of it worth Ksh.5.9 billion still lying in the State agency’s warehouses; only health products worth Ksh.1.8 billion having being sold.

This follows the committee’s site visit to the KEMSA offices and warehouse on Tuesday, December 1, 2020.

The projected loss to KEMSA was about Ksh.2.9 billion if goods were sold at current market rates, this figure increases with time as the market prices are getting lower.

To prevent this loss to taxpayers, the committee recommends that the Ministry of Health should authorize KEMSA to dispose of medical items that were procured in response to COVID-19 at prevailing market prices.

KEMSA, however, has already paid some suppliers Ksh.4.7 billion and still owes other suppliers Ksh.7.6 billion.

According to the report, goods worth Ksh.2.9 billion were ready for sale but were yet to be processed.

With regard to PPEs, the current stock was 317,409 units and the stock that was ready for sale was 115,690 units; negotiations for the goods between KEMSA and the suppliers were yet to be completed, this was on account of a letter from the EACC suspending all procurement processes pending investigations.

However,  EACC’s investigations into the alleged irregularities in the procurement and payments singled out 52 persons of interest who were interviewed and their statements recorded – their cases still awaiting the decision of the DPP for further action.

Among those who were recommended for investigation were: Dr. Jonah Manjari (former KEMSA CEO), Charles Juma (former Procurement Director), Eliud Muriithi (former Commercial Director), Fredrick Wanyonyi (former Director, Legal Services), Edward Njoroge Njuguna (former Operations Director) and Waiganjo Karanja (Director, Finance & Strategy).

The committee’s report also recommended that DPP and DCI investigate the companies awarded tenders by KEMSA such as those who had been in existence for less than three years prior to the award of the tender.

The committee further recommended the review of the KEMSA act to ensure that counties are allowed to procure medical items from entities other than the State agency.

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Story By Dorcas Wangira
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