Nyakang'o calls for audit of billions donated to MoH

Ministry is also being probed over graft, manipulation of laws, overdrive purchases

In Summary
  • Nyakang’o said the audit should establish whether the funds were utilised for the intended purpose as required by law.
  • The cash was part of the Sh1 billion donated by World Bank to help the country fight the contagion.
Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'o.
COVID RELATED FUNDS: Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'o.

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o now wants a special audit done on the billions of shillings donated to the state through the Ministry of Health to fight Covid-19.

The country’s budget boss raised concerns that while the ministry received huge cash donations running into billions, Auditor general Nancy Gathungu has not scrutinised its books to ascertain whether the funds were used prudently.

“The expenditure on Covid-19 pandemic interventions is yet to be audited,” Nyakang’o said in her 2020-21 budget implementation review report for the national government.

Nyakang’o said the audit should establish whether the funds were utilised for the intended purpose as required by law.

The call comes at a time when all eyes are on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and Office of Director of Public Prosecution to prosecute suspects in the Sh7.7 billion scandal at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency.

The agencies have been investigating the alleged graft following revelations that top officials of the country’s drugs agency manipulated laws in the procurement of Covid related items.

Reports by Parliament and auditor on activities at Kemsa show that taxpayers lost in excess of Sh2 billion in the overdrive purchase of personal protective equipment, masks and other gears to aid in the global pandemic.

“During the period under review, Kemsa irregularly utilised Universal Health Coverage and Capital Budget to procure Covid-19 related items worth Sh7.63 billion without evidence of approval of the budgets by relevant authorities,” Gathungu said in her report released in September last year.

The report further reads, “The procurement process was not initiated based on need assessment and planning resulting in over procurement of Covid-19 related stock worth Sh6.3 billion that is still being held at Kemsa warehouses.”

Both Parliament and auditor recommended prosecution of top former bosses of Kemsa who bangled the procurement, landing the country into huge losses.

Apparently stemming from the scandal, there are recommendations the audit be extended to the parent ministry that controlled the billions donated to aid in combating the scourge.

“The OCOB recommends that the office of the auditor general conducts special audits to give an assurance on the value for money,” the report reads.

In April last year, a month after the pandemic hit the country, there was a public uproar after revelations that the ministry had spent Sh4 million on tea and snacks and another Sh6 million on airtime for its officials fighting the virus.

The cash was part of the Sh1 billion donated by the World Bank to help the country fight the contagion.

“The government received funds from donors and other development partners which were then set aside through the Ministry of Health as funds toward Covid-19 interventions,” the CoB said in the report.

The purposes of the funds included operationalisation of Covid-19 centres, increasing bed capacity at referral hospitals and provision of personal protective equipment to health workers.

Part of the cash was also meant for transfer to the counties, among other interventions to contain the contagious virus.

According to the report, some of the programmes funded through the Ministry of Health included the Kenya Emergency Response Project which gobbled up Sh5.35 billion.

The ministry also spent the funds in the conversion of a daycare centre to a ward for Covid-19 patients at the Kenyatta National Hospital at a cost of Sh140 million.

The funds were also used to operationalise 300 bed-capacity at Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital. This gobbled up Sh526.5 million according to disclosures made to the COB by the ministry.

The ministry also transferred Sh7.71 billion to counties to bolster their response to the virus.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)

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