ACCOUNTABILITY

Senate demands preliminary Covid-19 audit report by month end

Joint Senate committee wants the preliminary report to cover procurement compliance at Kemsa

In Summary
  • Auditor General had requested the committee to give her up to 15 October but members rejected her postulation.
  • The final Special Audit Report to be issued by end of November.
Nancy Gathungu after she was sworn in as Auditor General at the Supreme Court on July 17..
MATTER OF DEADLINE: Nancy Gathungu after she was sworn in as Auditor General at the Supreme Court on July 17..
Image: CHARLENE MALWA

The Senate has given Auditor General Nancy Gathungu up to September 30 to submit a preliminary report on utilisation of Covid-19 funds at Kemsa.

The Standing Committee on Health and the Ad Hoc Committee on Covid-19 Situation in Kenya said the preliminary report should focus only on the procurement processes at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency.

“I am directing that you give us a preliminary report on procurement processes at Kemsa by end of this month. We are not interested with what went to the counties for now. That will be captured in subsequent report,”  chair of the Standing Committee on Health Michael Mbito said.

Gathungu had requested the committee to give her up to October 15 but members rejected her postulation, saying they had narrowed down the scope of work.

“I will do my best. I hope that I will have a comprehensive report based on procurement compliance at Kemsa before that time,” Gathungu said.

The chief auditor asked the joint committee to write a supplementary letter requesting her office to provide a report on procurement compliance at Kemsa before the end of the month.

“We will carve out the Kemsa component of the report and fast track it. I will talk to my team and see what we can give you and indicate the report is not complete,” she added.

On July 23, the Standing Committee on Health requested the Auditor General to conduct a special audit on accounts of Kemsa for periods between 2017 and 2020 and on the utilisation of Covid-19 funds by the county governments.

On August 4, the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Covid-19 Situation in Kenya requested a special audit on utilisation of Covid-19 funds by the counties.

Appearing before the joint committee, Gathungu said the special audit was still at the initial stage of data collection, analysis and corroboration of information from various institutions.

“I expect this process to be completed by end of September,” she said.

The team will thereafter visit counties for verification of utilisation of funds from the first week of October.

“This field work is expected to be finalised by end of October, with the final Special Audit Report to be issued by end of November,” she noted.

The Auditor General further said the timelines are subject to change depending on circumstances that may cause undue delays, including implementation of health protocols at the entities' premises.

Meru Senator Mithika Linturi said the joint committee needed a preliminary report to work on as the Auditor General proceeds to investigate the counties.

“If the process of getting supplies was wrong, then the entire procedure is flawed. Before going to the counties to establish what happened there, get us a report,” he said.

Nominated Senator Beth Mugo concurred with Linturi, saying procurement was as important as disbursement and utilisation in the counties.

“If the procurement was not in accordance with the law, the outcome will certainly be irregular,” Mugo said.

On August 25, the Public Accounts Committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi also asked for a comprehensive forensic audit on the use of Covid-19 billions within 60 days.

The team wants the Auditor General to furnish it with a preliminary report of the first month and fortnightly progress reports of the audit findings.

A day later, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered that investigations into the suspected loss of Covid-19 funds be concluded in 21 days. He said heads would roll irrespective of the status of those involved if culpability is established.

The country is said to have been robbed of billions of shillings of state and donor funds through a graft web staged by cartels at Kemsa.

The agency is accused of having bought drugs and Covid-19 personal protective gear at inflated prices in a mega rip-off.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations are also probing the alleged scandal.

Edited by EKibii