Kemsa scandal deepens as legal team faces MPs
Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
The Sh7.6 billion scandal at Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) deepened yesterday, after legislators heard that the commitment letters issued to suppliers were illegal while others had expired.
National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee (PIC) chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir heard that the letters were done outside the provisions of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act (PPDA).
Officers from Kemsa’s legal department told the MPs that the legal department, only came to know of the existence of the commitment letters after all the processes including procurement and price negotiations had been concluded.
“Commitment letters are outside the provisions of the PPDA, this document was also done without the knowledge of the legal department,” said one of the officers.
The officers were responding to questions from Abdulswamad who sought to know why legal officers went ahead and allowed Kemsa management, to proceed with the tenders, yet they were aware that the budget had been overshot, from the initial Sh758 million that the Ministry of Health had set aside for the procurement of the Covid-19 materials.
“The management knew they were committing an illegality and still went ahead and issued the commitment letters, why?” Abdulswamad paused.
During yesterday’s meeting, it emerged that Kemsa management disregarded its own decisions to cancel the tenders awarded to suppliers who had not met the timelines for delivery and went ahead to dish out more letters of offer that shot Kemsa’s bills from Sh4 billion spent in the first three weeks of April to Sh 7.6 billion by June.
Led by the acting Chief Executive Edward Njoroge, the management concurred with the legislators that if the tenders had been cancelled, this would have saved Kemsa billions of shillings.
The decision to cancel the tenders came after a senior management meeting was held to asses the status of the country’s Covid-19 preparedness.
In the meeting, it resolved that the suppliers who had been issued with the offer letters and had not met the timelines set be exempted.
In his brief to the committee, Njoroge told the MPs that he was present during the meeting held on April 22, where it was agreed that the tenders that had not been met be canceled.
By the time the decision was made, Njoroge revealed, only essential commodities worth Sh169 million, had been delivered, against Sh5.4 billion worth of letters of offer that had been granted to suppliers.
“By that time, we had only received goods worth Sh129 million but by the time of the meeting, we had paid Sh4.5 billion,” he added.
As at now, he said Kemsa warehouse has goods worth Sh 5.9billion out of which Sh2.9 bilion are yet to be paid.
He said the warehouse has 316,000 Personal Protective Equipment worth Sh2billion and 1.6 million N95 masks.