County chiefs eye probe into hospital kits plan

Council of Governors Vice Chairperson Anne Waiguru. She has called for a special audit into the Managed Equipment Services project. [File, Standard]
Governors have described as a sham a project for leasing medical equipment to counties.

The controversial Sh38 billion programme to equip county hospitals with leased equipment is expected to feature at the Inter-governmental Budget and Economic Council meeting today to be chaired by Deputy President William Ruto.

There is confusion as some governors said they were not aware that deductions for the project were done at source, yet in the current budget each county paid Sh200 million, up from Sh95 million in the last financial year.

The Senate has also demanded answers on the variations of the annual payment by Sh2 billion.

Whereas Parliament approved Sh4.5 billion in 2015 through the Division of Revenue Act 2015 and the County Allocation of Revenue Act, Health ministry records indicated that Sh6.3 billion was paid to five international medical suppliers now on the Senate's radar.

The ministry was also censured by the Senate over the payment of Sh20 billion in three years against revenues of Sh1.2 billion.

It is estimated that the cost of the project at the end of the seven-year lease period could exceed Sh63 billion, as there was an option for a three-year extension.

This even as mystery surrounds the contractual details of the Sh7 billion ICT scan project and whether it is part of the multi-billion shilling Medical Equipment Service (MES) now termed a ‘cash cow’ for some individuals in Government whom the senators want arrested and prosecuted.

The ministry has identified 37 counties to receive CT scanners without prior needs assessment or consultations with the county governments and the Senate.

“We need to interrogate the variations in figures, which is unlawful. We passed Sh4.5 billion, the ministry insist its Sh6.3 billion. We should stop any subsequent payment until this issue is resolved,” said Minority Leader Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr.

Senators were also shocked to find missing details in the deals signed between governors of 21 counties and the ministry, which were provided by Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.

“Some copies of MoUs from 16 counties had their content relating to Mandera County while copies from Garissa, Samburu, Bomet, Kakamega and Vihiga were not availed,” reads an interim report by the Senate Health Committee chairman, Michael Mbito.

Though all the MoUs were standard, senators said it begged the question why there were so many discrepancies when only Bomet County did not sign and paid over Sh400 million.

“The MoU copy relating to Uasin Gishu County contained details of Mandera but was not signed. The copy of a signed MoU between MoH and Mandera County was the only complete document submitted,” reads a report by the joint committees of Health, Devolution and Legal Affairs.

The senators said it seemed the governors signed the MoUs under duress at the start of the project, which was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in an attempt to provide affordable healthcare.

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Medical Equipment ServiceInter-governmental Budget and Economic CouncilMinistry Of Health