Senators demand details on equipment deal as more queries emerge over cost variations

Senators led by Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen(R), Health Committee Chairman Michael Mbito(C) and Mutula Kilonzo Junior(L) peruse documents tabled by Health CS Sicily Kariuki when she appeared before the Senators in regard to medical Equipment Services and UHC in the Country at Parliament on Tuesday 27/11/18. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]
Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki has been directed to furnish the Senate with requisite documents on the controversial multi-billion medical equipment leasing scheme to the counties.

Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki made the ruling following a report to the House by Leader of Majority Kipchumba Murkomen after grilling the CS on the Sh25 billion variations in cost of project and why some counties are paying upfront for the equipment.

Prof Kindiki also instructed three House committee chairs namely Senators Michael Mbito (Health), John Kinyua (Devolution) and Samson Cherargei (Legal Affairs and Human rights) under the coordination of Murkomen to fast-track the probe and table an interim report by next Wednesday. The Deputy Senate Speaker asked the team to engage representatives from the Council of Governors, County Assemblies Forum and other stakeholders to get to the bottom of the matter.

“I will require an interim report to be tabled on Wednesday, December 5, at 2.30pm. We must get some answers by next week and senators wishing to bring further suggestions, including forming an ad hoc committee are allowed to do so,” directed Kindiki.

Senators are irked by the mystery surrounding the project, which was initially projected to cost Sh38 billion in seven years but varied and could cost taxpayers a whopping Sh63 billion.

“It appears that MoH officials are not clearly aware of payment and agreement of Sh38 billion charged against each county which started at Sh95 million in 2015. Trans Nzoia has been paying and no equipment delivered to date,” said Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni).

The senators also took issue with the huge variations and the inclusion of 21 additional hospitals from the initial 98.

The lawmakers questioned why counties were being billed Sh200 million up from Sh95 million annually in 2015.

“I have listened to statements and understand the enormity of the matter. It deals directly with the application and use of public funds. It involves devolution which is the corner stone of our constitution. If we claw back funds from counties there must be value for money,” Kindiki said.

The lawmakers are also set to interrogate former Health Cabinet Secretaries James Macharia, Cleopa Mailu and Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri over the viability of the project that has been has termed a ripoff.

Murkomen informed the House about the inconsistencies that emerged during the deliberations between the CS, Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman, Principal Secretary Peter Tum and ministry officials.

The meeting followed a statement sought by Senator Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo) on the feasibility of the project after complaints by the Dr Mbito-led committee that they were unable to get any response from the ministry.  

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Health EquipmentHealth Cabinet Secretary Sicily KariukiSenate Deputy Speaker Kithure KindikiLeader of Majority Kipchumba Murkomen