KEMSA: MPs want suppliers to refund cash

KEMSA CEO Jonah Manjari [Courtesy]

Suppliers to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) who exaggerated the cost for Covid-19 equipment could be forced to return millions of shillings.

This is after a parliamentary committee recommended recovery of the excess payments to the 102 companies that traded with the agency.

The National Assembly Public Investment Committee (PIC) is further pushing for the prosecution of top Kemsa bosses, including the suspended CEO Jonah Manjari and Director of Procurement Charles Juma.

Also targeted for punishment is former board chairman Kembi Gitura and member Joel Onsare for alleged involvement on the award of commitment letters to two firms.

The committee, in its report tabled in the House yesterday, claims Gitura and Onsare to influenced award of contracts to Wallabis Ventres Ltd and Villa Surgical Supplies and Equipment Ltd respectively.

The report by the Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir-led team has recommended formation of a multi-agency team to determine the actual market price of the items procured by the agency before proceeding to recover excess monies paid.

“All suppliers that may have supplied Kemsa at a price higher than that determined the price(s) should refund the Government of Kenya the excess payment made to them within a month of such price determination,” says the report.

The multi-agency team will comprise the Office of the Auditor General, Office of Attorney General, Public Procurement Regulatory Authority and the Treasury under the leadership of the Ministry of Health.

The MPs want the team to analyse prices for the KN95 masks and surgical masks between March and July 2020.

Analysis of a number of government agencies, including the Covid-19 Task Force, the Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya National Highways Authority, Kenya Medical Practioners and Dentist Council, and the Kenya Red Cross that bought Covid-19 related items between March and June 2020 show that they procured the items at much lower prices.

The committee wants the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to probe Dr Manjari with a view of preferring charges against him.

The report says that the beleaguered official awarded contracts running into billions based on commitment letters that is not a recognized instrument.

The report says Manjari should be prosecuted for ignoring the advice of the Kemsa board that resolved to suspend or cancel further procurement due to lack of budget.

He is also accused of procuring the Covid-19 supplies without a procurement plan, market survey and budgets as well as failure to update the board on the agencies preparedness

Further, he is accused of failure to conduct due diligence on suppliers prior to issuance of commitment letters after it emerged that some of them were not pre-qualified by Kemsa.

The report has put Juma on the sport over his role in issuing contracts without conducting market survey to determine the actual prices of the items.

He is said to have drafted commitment letters while aware that there was no procurement plan and budget to undertake such procurements

Juma is further on the spot for allowing receipt of goods that had not passed through quality assurance to ascertain their suitability.

Also on the firing line is the Director of Finance and Strategy, Waiganjo Karanja and head of legal department, Ferdinand Wanyonyi. The report wants EACC to investigate them to determine whether they discharged their mandate during the period. The committee wants charges preferred against them if found to have abdicated their role, resulting to loss of taxpayers’ money.

The lawmakers further want the taxman to go for firms that supplied goods worth millions of shillings but failed to pay tax.

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