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Governors given a week to explain use of Covid-19 funds

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy BRIAN OTIENO AND BONIFACE GIKANDI | Thu,Apr 22 2021 17:45:00 EAT
By BRIAN OTIENO AND BONIFACE GIKANDI | Thu,Apr 22 2021 17:45:00 EAT

 Senate in session during the election of the Senate Deputy Speaker of the senate at the Senate chambers in Nairobi on June 2 ,2020 [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Senate has given governors a week’s notice to furnish it with supporting document on utilisation of the Sh7.7 billion Covid-19 funds.

The Senate Health Committee probing the expenditure of the funds, also grilled governors Mwangi wa Iria (Muranga) and James Nyoro (Kiambu) after the Auditor General Nancy Gathungu raised the red flag in a special audit report.

Murang’a County is on the spot over expenditure of Sh213.4 million after the AG raised 10 audit queries. Of the amount, Sh112 million was an allocation from the national government as a conditional grant.

Similarly, Nyoro was questioned over expenditure of Sh382 million without approved training plans.

Covid 19 Time Series

 

The AG’s report showed that the county put in place training plans for only 38 health facilities of the available 83.

“We conducted our training at the sub-county level and consolidated training of surveillance teams drawn from the 83 facilities to 38. We allocated Sh50,000 to each facility where training was conducted,” Dr Nyoro told the Senate team.

Mr Iria insisted that the expenditure was above board, even as the AG noted that the county budgeted for and spent part of the Sh213.4 million without approved work plans. But the governor said the work plans were prepared.

However, the committee led by the chairperson Senator Michael Mbito (Trans Nzoia) raised concern over the absence of relevant documents to prove the county indeed had the said work plans.

This was after officials from the AG’s office said they were yet to receive the said documents.

“As Senate, we have not received your annexures that would be proof that you followed the law. And it is the same with the Auditor General,” said temporary chairperson, Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina.

The Kiambu governor was put to task to explain how payment of Sh3 million was made to 26 individuals sharing seven different accounts in Saccos.

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“That is a serious error… from your explanation, it appears that you have employed the Saccos and not individuals. On the face of it, it is illegal,” charged Mr Ledama.

The AG report also flagged the county for the delay to transfer aid worth Sh10 million from the County Revenue Fund to the Special Health Account, an over-expenditure of Sh2.3 million as allowances to frontline health workers as well as under-utilisation of Covid-19-related funds.

Nyoro, who defended the process, was asked by the committee to present documents to support the same.

Earlier, the committee censured Iria for snubbing a similar sitting on Monday to explain why his government failed to utilise Sh100 million meant for frontline healthcare workers.

“We did not spend the money as it reached our account after the financial year had ended. We still have the funds and we will be putting them to their intended use,” said the Murang’a governor.

Iria also denied procuring maize flour worth Sh5.6 million without a purchase requisition as indicated in the audit report.

He further refuted findings that his government awarded tenders to supply surgical masks worth Sh3 million to non-prequalified bidders. The AG’s report had listed the masks to be under pharmaceutical equipment, whose tender would have been awarded to pre-qualified firms.

The county boss, however, argued that the masks were non-pharmaceutical items. Senate’s legal team is expected to guide on whether masks are pharmaceuticals or non-pharmaceuticals.

The AG report flagged irregular establishment of Murang’a County Covid-19 fund, wrong computation of withholding tax, failure to value Covid-19 donations and failure to generate monthly reports on the utilisation of Covid-19 funds.

The AG report also indicated that the county put up 110 isolation beds, 190 short of the required 300 per county as directed by the president.

The governor, however, admitted a double payment of Sh172,000 for the supply of hydrogen peroxide.

“It is not enough to accept there was a mistake. We need to know what action has been taken against the responsible officer,” said Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri.

Iria promised to file the findings within seven days alongside other documents.

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