GRILLED

Senators question Nyong'o on Covid-19 funds

County boss questioned over failure by his administration to prepared plans to guide expenditures

In Summary

•On Friday, the senators took issue with the letter, accusing him of belittling and disrespecting the committee and by extension, the senate.

•Nyong’o, a former senator, apologised to the committee, stating the he was not aware that he was personally required to attend the session.

Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o
Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o
Image: FAITH MATETE

A letter by Governor Anyang Nyongo’s aide communicating his boss's absence in a previous meeting on Friday set the tempo of a meeting with a Senate committee where the county boss was questioned over Covid-19 funds.

Members of the Senate Health Committee took issue with the governor for ‘disrespecting’ the Senate by allowing his chief of staff to write to the committee.

“Why did you have to allow your chief of staff to write to the senate even if you were committed elsewhere?” Wajir senator Abdullahi Ali posed.

Nyong’o who appeared before the panel on summons after he skipped an invitation last week on Tuesday, had in a letter signed by his chief of staff John Oywa stated that he had rushed to a sub-county to attend to an emergency situation.

“The governor had planned to attend the meeting but had to rush to the far flung Nyakach sub-county where flash floods have displaced thousands of villagers,” the letter read in part.

On Friday, the senators took issue with the letter, accusing him of belittling and disrespecting the committee and by extension, the senate.

Nyong’o, a former senator, apologised to the committee, stating the he was not aware that he was personally required to attend the session.

After he left the office, he said, a senate staff called his office about the meeting. It was at this point that the chief of staff wrote the letter and sent to the committee.

“I apologise about it,” Nyong’o said paving the way for heated questing of the county boss on the spending of Sh238.57 million channeled to the county to fight the pandemic.

Nyong’o, who chairs the Council of Governor’s Health committee was put to task to explain why his administration spent Sh209.82 million without approved training plans for grants and county emergency fund.

The county boss, who appeared virtually before the committee alongside his Finance and Health executives George Omondi and Boaz Otieno respectively, was also put to task to explain why his administration defied guidelines by the Ministry of Health on the management of grants from the national government.

According to the audit report, the county government deposited grants from the national government amounting to Sh159.82 million to an emergency fund account held with a commercial bank.

This is contrary to guidelines for management of conditional grants by the Health PS Susan Mochache.

According to the guidelines, health executives and chief officers’ were supposed to open a special purpose account for the Covid 19 grant.

Nyong’o, speaking through Omondi, said the county emergency preparedness plan was developed in accordance with the grant rules and was the work plan by which the interventions were implemented.

“A separate training plan was developed by the Department of Health and Sanitation and though the work plan was presented to Auditors during the audit, the training plan was not. This was an oversight,” he said.

Omondi said he deposited the cash in the emergency the funds accounts following the delays by the Ministry of Health to issue the guidelines.

“However, the audit observation has been positively noted and the Fund management has put in place measures to separate National Government Conditional Grants for COVID-19 from other sources of funding,” he said.

Kisumu Senator Fred Outa demanded to know why the county’s budget for Covid 19 responses was Sh159 million yet during a meeting of the county leadership, a budget of Sh200 million had been drafted.

The county response explained that while the county’s intention was to channel Sh200 million towards the Covid 19 mitigating measures, the county only raised Sh159 million in actual revenues.