ACCOUNTABILITY

Make Covid-19 expenditures transparent, state told

Hennet, an NGO, wants culprits in the Kemsa scandal punished

In Summary

•Hennet is calling on investigative agencies in the country to expedite investigations into scandals revolving around the expenditure of Covid-19 funds.

•the national government has been urged to  publicly disclose funds disbursed to county governments towards Covid-19 mitigation or support,

Passengers being screened for Covid-19 symptoms.
COVID-19: Passengers being screened for Covid-19 symptoms.
Image: STEPHEN ATARIKO

 

The government should enhance transparency and accountability in the use of Covid-19 funds, an NGO has said.

Concerns have been raised on the utilisation of billions of shillings set aside to fight the pandemic by both the national and county governments.

Hennet chief executive Dr Mercy Onsando in a report said accountability and transparency were disregarded and overlooked this year with pre-existing frameworks for procurements and contracts not applied.

The report says by the time the year started, the government had already secured over Sh200 billion from the international community including World Bank and European Union for the fight against Covid-19.

In April, as part of Kenya’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Project, World Bank approved Sh5.4 billion.

Also, Kenya’s Financial Year 2019-20 budget was revised, increasing allocations to the National Safety Net Programme (NSNP) by Sh8.7 billion; from Sh30.2 billion to 38.8 billion.

An additional Sh1.1 billion was allocated to the National Covid-19 Contingency Plan while the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions donated Sh2 billion to the country’s coronavirus emergency fund. 

The report says some counties misappropriated Covid-19 funds.

It says Vihiga only released information relating to expenditure on Covid-19 after a demand by MCAs, but the information provided showed that the funds had been misappropriated. 

This is after it emerged that the county's Covid emergency committee spent Sh10.2 million on precautionary measures and other logistics in the first 51 days of the fight against Covid-19.

Over the same period, Kisumu spent Sh91.8 million on the fight against the pandemic despite there being no detected case within the county by the time the cash was spent. 

As a result, Hennet wants the government to post all procurement information related to Covid-19 on government portals to enhance transparency.

“For better accountability in the expenditure of Covid-19 funds at the county, the national government should publicly disclose funds disbursed to county governments towards Covid-19 mitigation or support,” Onsando said.

Hennet also called for a quick conclusion to the probe into alleged scandal at Kemsa.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission disclosed that preliminary findings had shown that several laws on public procurement were flouted during the awarding of the tenders at Kemsa.

EACC’s report to Senate health committee stated investigations had established criminal culpability on the part of public officials in the purchase and supply of Covid-19 emergency commodities at the authority.

It cited irregular expenditure of public funds.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in August directed the Ministry of Health to publish details of all procurements related to Covid-19 particularly those undertaken by Kemsa.

Hennet asked the EACC, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the DCI to take action against the culprits.

“Hennet is concerned that three months into the Kemsa Covid-19 scandal investigations have never been concluded and those responsible not held to account. This is despite President Uhuru directing investigations to be concluded in 21 days,” Onsando said.