Senators now demand counties be probed over Sh13b mystery

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020 00:00 |
Cash. Photo/File

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

Senators yesterday urged the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and DCI to investigate how Sh13.1 billion coronavirus funds were utilised.

The lawmakers claim county governments only utilised a paltry Sh3.43 billion out of the Sh13.1 billion disbursed for virus interventions. 

According to the Special Budget Review Implementation Report on the Utilisation of Funds by County Governments towards Covid-19 interventions, the bulk of funds was spent on fuel, purchase of masks, sanitisers and soap, food, bedding, allowances and the acquisition of Personal Protective Equipment at the expense of key medical equipment.

Lawmakers now want Office of the Auditor-General to conduct  forensic audit to trace what may have happened to the remainder of the funds.

They cited Nandi, Kakamega, Bungoma, Bomet, Samburu, Isiolo, Nyamira, Busia and Bungoma counties. Others are Busia, Trans Nzoia, Wajir, Kisumu and Vihiga.

Led by Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and his Nyamira counterpart Okong’o Omogeni, the legislators alleged that some of the funds might have been embezzled.

“The governors are being spotted in very expensive suits that have been purchased using money that was meant to save lives of our people,” Omogeni alleged without adducing any evidence to back his claims.

Malala noted that during the pandemic period, the County Assembly of Kakamega appropriated Sh50 million as emergency funds, while the national government gave out Sh262 million to help curb the spread of disease.

“However, up to now, there is nothing substantive to write home about on how these funds were utilised,” Malala lamented.

“My county with such a huge population has only five isolation centres, with hardly functional facilities.

The county boasts of having a gene expert machine, a machine that tests Covid-19.

However, the machine is dysfunctional, lying idle at the Kakamega County General Hospital,” Malala added.

Meaningful intervention

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula on the other hand claimed that Sh213 million appropriated by the national government is yet to be utilised for meaningful intervention.

Wajir Senator Ali Abdullahi on the other hand claimed that there was no single ICU bed in his county.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei noted that his county government was yet to provide sanitisers and masks to the public.

“It is sad that on one occasion, airtime worth Sh350,000 was allocated. One wonders why such an amount would be allocated for airtime. I did not know that airtime could fight cotonavirus.

Elsewhere, a report by a Mombasa-based lobby group, Human Rights Agenda –(HURIA) has claimed the county misappropriated Covid-19 funds.

Report titled “unmasking Covid-19 funds expenditure” states that there were claims of corruption during recruitment and selection of beneficiaries of national government initiatives and programmes meant to support residents against the pandemic.

Huria Executive Director Yusuf Lule, said there was equally massive looting within the county; something he said was justified by authorities’ gesture to block access to crucial documents on expenditure of the funds.

Report, which was launched over the weekend, was conducted between August 21 and 24.

It is based on 200 in person interviews under the pilot project called–Strengthening Public Accountability and Integrity Systems supported by the United Nations Development programme. Additional reporting by Reuben Mwambingu

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