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Governors fault auditor on their use of Covid-19 funds

NAIROBI
By Grace Ng’ang’a | April 29th 2021
Senate Standing Joint Committee on Health and Ad-hoc Committee on COVID-19 situation in the country member Fred Outa during committee meeting KEMSA officials at Parliament [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Several governors have poked holes in the audit report showing the misappropriation of Sh7.7 billion through violation of procurement laws. 

Governors James Ongwae (Kisii) and Charity Ngilu (Kitui) told the Senate  Health Committee that they furnished the Auditor General Nancy Gathungu’s office with relevant documents.

The governors maintained that the procurement of goods and services were under emergency procurement and therefore regularised later as per the law.

Ngilu defended her administration over the flawed procurement process arguing that it was above board and dismissed the findings of the AG.

The AG’s report shows that some counties spent the Covid-19 funds without approved procurement plans, budget plans, training plans and market survey for the goods delivered.

But Ngilu dismissed claims of lacking an approved budget for the Sh120,358,000 conditional grant which was allocated to the department of health.

Emergency procurement

Ongwae was summoned by the committee to shed light on expenditure of more than had Sh406,612,000 after the AG flagged irregular procurement and award of contract, and splitting of procurement.

According to the report, the three contracts worth Sh8,433,000 were awarded as an open tender though no quotations were requested.

But Ongwae maintained that the dates by the AG office were not correct and the pre-qualification was under emergency procurement.

“May 19, 2020 is the tender/quotation date and not the LSO date as observed by the auditor. It’s important to note that the manual also gives dates for both tender reference number and the authorization date,” he said.

On Monday, Wajir Governor Abdi Mohamud was to appear before the committee chaired by Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito but excused himself to deal with his impeachment motion in the county assembly. He was impeached on Tuesday. 

Suspended KEMSA CEO Jonah Manjari(left) and Board Chairman Kembi Gitura when they appeared before the Senate Standing Joint Committee on Health and Ad-hoc Committee on COVID-19 situation in the country at Parliament [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Mwangi wa Iria of Murang’a rejected a section of the report that claimed his administration worked without proper plans in the expenditure of Sh213.41 million.

He argued that the plans were developed by the national emergency response committee in collaboration with the county executive.

The committee questioned the communication between the governors and the Auditor’s office after it turned out some information was lacking from Ms Gathungu’s office.

The senators accused some county governments of not sending crucial documents slowing down the probe.

“How do we continue without the documents. It’s now a trend,” said Senator Fred Outa.

On Monday, the grilling of Isiolo governor had to be halted as responses from the county government were yet to be received by the AG although they were received by the House.

The hearing was postponed to allow time to furnish the office of the AG with all documents and annexures showing how they utilised the funds.

Mbito said only three meetings have been successful since the probe started, and added that some governors are sending representatives to the hearings while others pick dates of their choice to appear.

“This pattern has emerged and of the eight scheduled meetings conducted so far, five failed due to the aforementioned reasons,” he said.

Investigate 27 counties

Mbito said moving forward they will not consider any requests for extensions or rescheduling of hearings unless such requests “are forwarded to the office of the clerk of the Senate at least seven days in advance.”

Last week, Murang’a governor was asked to attend in person after sending the county CEC. Kisumu’s Anyang’ Nyong’o also snubbed summons to shed light on the expenditure of Sh238.57 million.

In the report, Gathungu recommended to the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to investigate at least 27 counties.

“The funds from the National Government were disbursed to the county governments for purpose of Covid-19 interventions.

“It was however established that the county governments had not utilised the National Government’s grants for Covid-19 related activities,” reads part of the report.

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