Home Kenya News COVID-19: Kemsa billionaires to refund cash as MPs dig in

COVID-19: Kemsa billionaires to refund cash as MPs dig in

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Abdulswamad Nassir

Senior officials and board members of the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority could be investigated by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission over the Sh7.8 billion PPE scandal.

The National Assembly Public Investments Committee has recommended that the EACC investigates former chairman Kembi Gitura, Joel Onsare and former Kemsa board members.

Also recommended for probe are suspended CEO Jonah Manjari, director of procurement Charles Juma, Finance director Waiganjo Karanja and head of legal Ferdinand Wanyonyi for dereliction of duty.

PIC has also invited the anti-graft agency to investigate the top Kemsa management on how it processed payment to some suppliers.

The committee specifically wants officers, who allegedly backdated the commitment letters issued to Shop n Buy Ltd, prosecuted.

A special audit revealed that taxpayers may have lost up to Sh3.2 billion in irregular payments.

PIC has further asked the Kenya Revenue Authority to investigate whether all the suppliers had declared and paid taxes due to the taxman.

“In the event that there are those that failed to declare and pay taxes, the KRA should commence appropriate legal actions against them,” reads the PIC report tabled yesterday.

For Gitura, the committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir wants the former Murang’a senator probed for influencing the award of commitment letters to two of the 112 companies that were under probe.

PIC has also recommended that the companies that were paid nearly Sh4 billion, in samples and initial supplies, refund the cash to the government.

Only two companies were found to have followed the law in the procurement of the Covid-19 response items. The rest used commitment letters.

“Harleys Limited and Nairobi Enterprises Limited that insisted on following the procurement law were left out in the payment,” the report reads.

The committee has also recommended that the goods held at Kemsa warehouses be sold to recover taxpayers’ money.

It suggests that a multiagency team look into the whole procurement process with a view to analysing the amount payable to Kemsa suppliers.

“All suppliers that may have supplied at a price higher than the determined prices should refund the government the excess payment made to them.”

Nassir said the country would be able to save about Sh800 million when the supplies are sold as has been recommended by the Cabinet, the EACC, the Health ministry, and the presidential taskforce on Covid-19.

“We have done our part. I am of the belief that the House will approve the report and thereafter, the implementing agencies can take up the matter.

“For those who have not been paid, let them not get any money until this matter is sorted. For those that have been paid, let the Asset Recovery Agency kick in and recover the funds,” Nassir said.

PIC said the EACC should investigate the board with a view to preferring charges for abdication of responsibility.

It linked former board chairman Gitura—now chairman of the Communications Authority—to the award of letters to Wallabis Ventures Ltd and Villa Surgical Supplies and Equipment Limited.

MPs have also recommended that the EACC investigate suspended Kemsa CEO Jonah Manjari with a view to preferring charges against him.

The committee has proposed he be charged with signing commitment letters, arguing that it is not an instrument recognised in law.

Manjari is also to be probed for ignoring the advice of the Kemsa board meeting of April 2020 that resolved to suspend further procurement because of a lack of budgets.

The legislators also want the suspended CEO charged with procuring Covid-19 items without a procurement plan, market survey and budgets.

He is further in trouble for failing to regularly update the board on Kemsa’s preparedness for the procurement of Covid-19-related items.

Should MPs approve the report, Manjari will be charged for failing to demand due diligence on suppliers prior to the issuance of commitment letters.

“This is considering that some suppliers that were given commitment were not prequalified by Kemsa,” the tabled PIC report says.

For Juma, PIC wants the procurement director charged with failing to advise the CEO on the necessity to put in place procedures for conducting retrospective direct procurement.

MPs want the officer charged with drafting commitment letters “while aware that there was no procurement plan, market survey and budgets to undertake such procurements”.

“The EACC should investigate Charles Juma for failure to initiate procurements through requisitions contrary to Section 73 of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015,” the report reads.

Waiganjo could be investigated on “whether he abdicated duty as the head of the finance function” and for Wanyonyi on whether he discharged his duty as a legal adviser to the CEO during the procurement.

“The EACC should investigate the Kemsa head of legal department and prefer charges against him if he may have abdicated his role.”

PIC has also asked the Finance Committee of the National Assembly to review procurement laws to provide for the procedure for retrospective direct procurement.

It has also recommended the amendment of the State Corporations Act to provide that director generals of state corporations serve in an acting capacity for more than six months.

-The-Star

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