House team censures Health ministry over Sh7b Kemsa scandal
The Ministry of Health oversaw loss of billions of shillings in the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) scandal, MPs said yesterday.
Members of the Public Investments Committee (PIC) currently investigating the scandal involving the purchase of Covid-19 related equipment where Sh7.8 billion was lost said the ministry could not escape from blame since it was represented in the board.
When she appeared before the committee on behalf of Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe yesterday, Principal Secretary Susan Mochache confirmed that the ministry was represented in all the meetings by the board.
“We normally have a representative in the board and we are fully briefed on matters deliberated therein,” Mochache told the committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir.
The investigation was initiated following a report by the Auditor General which flagged the irregularities in the procurement of the Covid-19 equipment.
Mochache, however, maintained the ministry was not involved and that it only gives guidance on policy matters.
At one time, the PS was involved in an altercation with Wajir East MP Rashid Amin, who accused her of playing a role in the “theft”.
“You cannot run away from this scandal, you are represented in the board and even issued directives on items to be purchased. Billions were lost under the supervision of your ministry,” Amin charged.
Mochache, however, hit back terming the allegations as baseless and out of context. Nassir, however, interjected and called the two to order.
Outlining the steps made to remedy the situation especially on the equipment and drugs the agency is still holding, Mochache told the committee her ministry sought Cabinet approval in November last year to allow Kemsa to sell commodities at prevailing market price for immediate distribution to counties.
“Subsequently, the ministry was guided to liaise with the relevant state agencies that were undertaking investigations to resolve the matter,” she said.
The ministry, she said engaged with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission who provided conditional clearance to Kemsa to proceed and deal with the stock including undertaking taking a stock audit and prepare an inventory of PPEs.
On the issue of the specific policy role, the ministry or the oversight task it gave Kemsa during the procurement of the items, the PS said regular meetings were held and reports provided.
She, however, disclosed that the extent of procurement undertaken against available funds was not shared until the matter was raised by the National Treasury.