Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) rejected an offer to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) at Sh4,500 and instead bought them for Sh9,000 per unit.
That decision by the agency cost the taxpayers at least Sh1.6 billion.
Northlink General Suppliers – a company that traded with the agencies in the supply of Covid-19 equipment – yesterday told members of Public Investment Committee (PIC) that it sought to supply PPEs at Sh4,590 per piece, 3 ply surgical masks at Sh90 per unit and N95 masks Sh900.
But Kemsa in a commitment letter denied the firm owned by Ahmed Takoy a contract to supply PPEs and instead awarded companies that supplied the same at double the price.
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The firm was given the go-ahead to supply 2000, 000 N95 masks and 1,500,000 surgical 3 ply masks. The firm, however, only supplied surgical 3 ply masks worth Sh135 million.
PIC chairman Abdulswamad Nassir wondered why the agency opted to purchase the items at double the price even when there were firms offering them at a low cost. The agency purchased 370,000 PPEs at a cost of Sh3.3 billion, which would have gone down by a half had it sought them at a lower cost.
“Are you surprised they bought the items at Sh9,000 and not at the price you offered? This country would have been able to save Sh1.6 billion,” said Nassir.
The parliamentary team also established that the Covid-19 Emergency Response team procured the PPEs way below the price offered to the agency.
It also emerged that the agency allowed firms to deliver supplies before they were called to negotiate prices.
“There were negotiations after we made the supplies. They called me and asked me to tell them my price. I found it strange to be told to negotiate after making supplies,” said Takoy.
A report by the Kenya Revenue Authority presented to the committee revealed that only 13 out of the 102 firms that traded with Kemsa were tax compliant.
The report shows that only 13 companies applied for the Import Declaration Form, a mandatory requirement for importers.
At the same time, it emerged that a firm that was struggling financially secured a tender to supply 200,000 masks worth Sh140 million.
Meraky Healthcare Ltd Managing Director, Dr Wairimu Mbogo admitted that the firm struggled to secure funding for the tender, triggering MPs to question whether there was any technical and financial evaluation.