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Sh63b kits scam: Senate passes the buck to EACC

By Moses Nyamori and Roselyne Obala | September 9th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Senate committee investigating the Medical Equipment Services chairperson Fatuma Dullo at a past session at Parliament. [File, Standard]

A Senate committee has declared the Sh63 billion medical equipment leased for counties as ‘criminal enterprise’ conceptualised to siphon taxpayers’ billions of shillings.

The ad-hoc committee investigating the Managed Equipment Services (MES), in a 395-page report tabled yesterday, said procurement officials awarded the contracts in a questionable manner.

The committee has invited the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to probe what it concluded was criminal. The Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo-led team that has been probing the matter for close to a year, however, failed to spell out sanctions against State officers and firms linked to the deal.

“The persons involved in the conceptualisation and implementation of the project from start to finish implemented it in a manner that violated the Constitution,” report the report.

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It added: “In fact, the committee has established that the MES project appears to have been conceived like a criminal enterprise shrouded in opaque procurement processes and aimed at benefiting a few commercial interests.”

“The committee recommends that EACC investigates and takes appropriate action within 90 days and report to the Senate,” recommends the committee.

It went on: “The matters are nevertheless serious and require the relevant investigatory organs to pursue. The committee’s view, therefore, is that some issues raised merit further investigations.”

The team wants public officers found culpable prosecuted and barred from holding office.

“The committee recommends that all public officers found culpable of irregularities and illegalities committed in the furtherance of the adverse commercial interests be prosecuted and be barred from holding public office,” recommends the committee.

Private entities

The report seeks to have all private entities and persons found culpable barred from doing business with county and national governments.

The report says some of the 227 equipment in the MES project were either overpriced, substandard, delivered late, or undelivered at all. There was also no inspection or vetting of equipment by relevant government agencies.

The Senate team went on to accuse the Ministry of Health of bulldozing the project despite having known that some counties lacked capacity to utilise the equipment.

“The committee established that despite the Ministry of Health carrying out a needs assessment, it still went ahead to procure equipment for counties while aware that the same would not be optimally used,” says the report.

It adds: “Procurement was done to advance private commercial interests.”

Within six months

The recommended that the office of the Auditor General should undertake a forensic audit and report back to the Senate within six months.

The committee also observed that there was a disconnect between the functioning of the Office of the Attorney General and other government departments and agencies. It said the disconnect had served as a loophole which certain officers and agencies have exploited at the cost of the rule of law.

During the probe, former Attorney General Githu Muigai told the team that the Health ministry then under CS James Macharia and Principal Secretary Khadija Kassachoon ignored his advice on the contract.

The committee said this was the only project where conditional grants meant for county governments and appropriated under the County Allocation of Revenue Acts were deducted at the source and transferred to the Ministry of Health.

It directed that moving forward, the money meant for the project should be deposited to the County Revenue Fund as required by the Constitution and Section 109 of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012.

The committee said whereas the implementation of the MES project may have been well intended, it provided an opportunity for some officers to defraud the public.

EACC Senate committee Managed Equipment Services County Allocation of Revenue Acts Public Finance Management Act 2012
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