Mochache spills beans on Kemsa Covid fund theft

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020 09:00 |
Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache when he appeared before the National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee over audit queries on Covid-19 funds. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

Shocking details emerged yesterday of how Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) top management by-passed the Ministry of Health to procure Covid 19 related items, worth billions of shillings within a time span of three weeks.

 National Assembly Public Investments Committee (PIC) members were shocked to learn that Kemsa officials between April 1 and April 24, ordered for items worth Sh4 billion, way above the World Bank funded budget of Sh758 million.

In the following two months, the agency went ahead to procure more Covid-19 related goods worth another  Sh3 billion, bringing the total cost to Sh7 billion.

 Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache who was appearing before the committee told MPs that the Kemsa Board was not aware of the happenings, as it had not met and was only informed of the purchases later.

The Sh758 million she said was strictly for the purchase of 25,000 Personal Protective  Equipment (PPE) kits, 10,000 N95 masks, 6,000 laboratory sample collection and transportation consumable kits and 6,000 laboratory test kits, laboratory supplies and reagents.

“It is true that these procurements happened within a very short time, when we were all busy dealing with a pandemic and holding meetings and we expected that someone would follow the law when dealing with such matters,” she said.

 “I do not know what was behind this thinking of buying goods worth so much.

It is true that we have learnt so much after this incident, however it is sad that when we have an individual at the helm of an organisation who is supposed to follow the law and he decides to go the same law in such an imaginable way, I cannot be held responsible for that.

The damage happened in a very short time and I don’t know how it happened,” she added.

Documents tabled before the committee show that although the ministry had indicated what it wanted procured, Kemsa went ahead to purchase items worth Sh2.1 billion, way above the Sh758 million budget.

Yet still, the only goods which were delivered amounted to Sh149 million.

Among the items that Kemsa procured outside the budget were 139 million face masks worth Sh48 million, 151.7 million PPEs worth Sh16.4Million, 58.7 million Gloves Surgical Sterile worth Sh58.7 million and 1.7 million laboratory items worth Sh9 million.

Others were 1.5 million surgical masks worth Sh28.4 million, 2 million surgical masks disposable three ply worth Sh93.2 million, 100 N95 face masks worth Sh250,000, 9,900 n95 respirator masks worth Sh6.9 million, 25,000 theater boots worth 37.5 Million among others.

 “Kemsa via email submitted the report to the Ministry of Health which indicated that the authority had entered into supplies commitments of items worth Sh2.1 billion.

Out of these, goods worth Sh149,075,396 had been delivered leaving a balance of Sh2,035,923,666,” reads the report.

Special audit

Mochache who had appeared to respond to queries raised by the Auditor General who commissioned a special audit on use of Covid funds in the country, said she was on the dark, when the procurements were being made and was only informed by the National Treasury in a letter dated June 22, that Kemsa had requested for additional budgetary support worth Sh5.1 billion.

 She added that the National Treasury informed her that Kemsa when making the request, did not say whether the commitment was made without confirmation of availability of funds.

She added that it also raised concerns that the request was made directly to them, while by passing the Ministry of Health contrary to channel requests through the accounting officer.

 “I am equally baffled on how this matter unfolded yet the law is clear you don’t spend what you don’t have.

The question is why did they disregard the Ministry of Health. If you look keenly, you can see how the management tried to look for money to justify this, we need to find out what was the motivation behind this,” she said.

 She added: “My conscience is very clear, I made every effort to find out what was going on at Kemsa and at some point, I even confronted the Chief Executive Officer over the theft claims but I was told there was nothing like that,” she added.

 Mochache who exonerated herself against any wrongdoing, also revealed that the Ministry had prepared a Cabinet Memo, seeking permission for Kemsa to sell the current stock at the current market price which will lead to a loss of Sh2 billion.

 PIC chairman Abdulswamad Nassir told Mochache that she could not delink herself from the issues happening at Kemsa as she is the accounting officer.

 “ We saw this monster grow into adulthood, we saw it eat our children as we watched, the ministry should have stopped this before it blew up in to a full scandal,” said Abdulswamad.

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