QUESTIONED BY MPS

Governor Nanok put on the spot for awarding tenders to ineligible firms

Turkana county also diverted Sh212.44 million meant for the war on Covid to other programmes.

In Summary

• The county awarded a Sh12 million tender to Trevyion Enterprises for supply of personal protective equipment, it lacked tax compliance and PIN certificates. 

• In addition, it was awarded a Sh1.56 million tender for supply urgent goods and PPE on April 24, 2020 but as at the time of completion of the special audit, on October 8, 2020, the PPE had not been delivered.

Turkana governor Josphat Nanok addresses residents.
Turkana governor Josphat Nanok addresses residents.
Image: HESBORN ETYANG

Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok was Tuesday taken to task for his administration's award of Covid tenders to unqualified firms and diverted Sh212.44 million meant for the war on the contagion.

Appearing before the Senate Health committee probing the spending of the Covid cash, Governor Nanok was at pains to justify award of tenders worth millions of shillings to companies that lacked requisite practice permits. The nine-member committee is chaired by Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito.

According to the special audit report on utilisation of Covid funds by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu, the county awarded a Sh12 million tender to Trevyion Enterprises for supply of personal protective equipment.

However, the firm lacked tax compliance and PIN certificates. In addition, it was awarded a Sh1.56 million tender for supply urgent goods and PPE on April 24, 2020.

The report says as at the time of completion of the special audit on October 8, 2020, the PPE had not been delivered.

“This raised doubt on urgency of the goods and level of county preparedness to mitigate Covid-19 risks that they were meant for the Covid-19 emergency,” the report reads.

Further, the county awarded a Sh3.14 million tender to Ultraceuticals Pharmacy for supply of facemasks with ear lops, yet the premises registration certificate for pharmaceutical technologists practice for the supplier had expired by December 31, 2018.

Responding through his Finance executive Emathe Namuar, the governor dismissed findings that Trevyion Enterprises lacked tax compliance and PIN certificates and appeared to blame auditors for failing to seek the documents.

“Trevyion Enterprises was a duly registered sole proprietor business entity with a registration certificate issued on July 3, 2015,” Namuar said.

On failure by Trevyion Enterprises to deliver PPE, he said the firm had written to the county that it was not able to supply the items as it had run out of stock.

“The shortage was further compounded by the international travel ban that had been imposed,” the governor said in his response.

On Ultraceuticals Pharmacy tender, the county reckoned that expired certificate for the company was ‘erroneously’ annexed to the tender document and the payment vouchers.

But the auditor who scrutinised the books told the committee that the certificates for Trevyion Enterprises were not part of the documents contained in a file provided to the auditors.

In addition, the county did not provide the documents even after the auditors gave a one-week grace period to do so.

The auditor’s submission triggered a barrage of questions from the members who demanded answers on why the county failed to provide the document.

“If the auditor is insisting that they requested for these documents, they gave you a week to provide them, why was this not done,” he said.

Wajir Senator Abdullahi Ali said, “The excuse of saying it was erroneously put and we have corrected it is not right. We must be told why this happened.”

The governor was also put on the spot to explain why his administration misappropriated Covid cash by diverting some Sh212.44 million meant to fight the pandemic.

The money was diverted and used for activities not related to Covid-19 fight. This violated Section 53 (1) of the Public Finance Management Act (County Government Act) Regulations, 2015.

The governor, through the CEC, said the county treasury diverted the cash to finance other essential programmes owing to prolonged delays by Parliament to approve the county revenue-sharing formula.

“We take note of Regulation 53 (1) of PFM Act (County Government) Regulations 2015. However, Regulation 83(1)(2)(c) was invoked in making borrowing to finance essential expenditures."

Among the essential programmes that required financing are emergency procurement of ambulances to support Covid-19 responses, preparation of the county annual development plan 2020-21 and public participation for the finance bill 2020.

“The funds were borrowed to address short-term cash flow problems. So far, the Sh191 million borrowed have been fully refunded to the emergency fund account,” the response reads.

But the auditor insisted that the diversion was irregular and amounted to misappropriation of funds meant to fight the virus.

The governor said the county treasury made internal borrowing from the Covid-19 emergency fund account due to "pressing" needs.

Nanok was also questioned on why his administration failed to prepare work plans, budgets, procurement plans and training plans specific to Covid-19, resulting in failure to utilise government grants. The county provided the plans, but the auditor said she required time to study them.