KENYA: MPs order audit into Sh38bn hospital equipment deal

April BusinessDaily; MPs have ordered an audit of the Sh38-billion programme to supply hospitals with modern equipment.

This follows the refusal by the Health ministry to hand over the contracts for scrutiny by the Health Committee.

The recommendation was made by the Budget and Appropriations Committee in a report adopted by the National Assembly last Wednesday.

The committee chaired by Mbeere South MP Mutava Musyimi reported that there were concerns amongst MPs about the Managed Equipment Service Project.

They said its services have been hampered as a result of uninstalled equipment in some hospitals as well as inadequate staff.

“However, despite these concerns, the programme’s budgetary allocation in 2016/17 was further adjusted upwards to Sh9.6 billion (an increment of Sh5.1 billion) in the supplementary estimates for 2016/17,” the committee said.

Informed decision

It also emerged that the Health Committee had failed to get the contracts for the project from the ministry, which made it difficult for the MPs to make informed decisions on the matter.

“As such, it is recommended that the Auditor-General undertakes a performance audit on the implementation of the MES programmes in a bid to address any emerging challenges and ascertain value for money,” said the committee.

The Health Committee had recommended that Sh1 billion be taken from the Sh6 billion allocated to the MES project and given to other priority areas.

The adoption of the report means that the Auditor-General has to act on the recommendation and report to the National Assembly.

The Auditor-General is Parliament’s principal adviser on the financial management of all three arms of the government plus its agencies.

This is not the first time that questions have been raised about the programme, whose aim is to supply equipment to help diagnose cancer, manage kidney problems, and carry out X-rays. Hospitals were also to have theatres for surgery.

Sh80m fine

During scrutiny of the Supplementary Budget for the current financial year, MPs were concerned after the Health ministry said it had fallen behind in payments and had been fined Sh80 million by General Electric.

The committee eventually decided to reduce the allocation to the programme by Sh1.5 billion.

The ministry had been allocated Sh5.1 billion. This reduction was on the basis that the Sh5.1-billion allocation exceeded the 10 per cent limit on increases as provided for under the law.

At the time, the chairman of the Health Committee, Dr Rachel Nyamai, said that the Health ministry had failed to submit the demand notice for the fines of Sh80 million and had also refused to show the MPs the contracts.

The project was initially controversial after governors resisted it on the basis that they had not been fully involved in the planning and the procurement of the machines.

They eventually accepted the project and signed agreements with the national government.

 

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