NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 – Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o is ready to brief Parliament on the unfolding scandal involving the Sh4.3 billion National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) civil servants medical scheme.
Nyong’o told the House that he was ready to give a detailed account of goings on at the health insurer to lawmakers next Tuesday.
He will however have to wait for Speaker Kenneth Marende to rule whether it is in order for him to address the House on a matter that is before a parliamentary committee without prejudicing the outcome of the MPs’ probe.
“I need to inform the House on how the matter is being handled; these are genuine issues… I think it would be good for us to be sober because what we want is to have facts,” he said as MPs jeered him.
Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale had earlier challenged Nyong’o to resign for failing to protect public funds.
“Now that both principals have overruled the minister, when (he) was attempting to reinstate thieves, is the minister now prepared to do the honourable thing, take political responsibility and resign before this House forces him to do so?” demanded Khalwale.
The Parliamentary Committee on Health has been investigating the scheme’s administration questioning how two private clinics received a huge chunk of the money under the plan.
Parliament last week learnt that a service provider, Clinix, received Sh202 million of which Sh91 million went to non-existent clinics to cover Civil Servants.
Yet another, Meridian Medical Centre received over Sh116 million out of which Sh30 million was allocated to yet-to-be-opened clinics.
MPs Racheal Shebesh and John Mbadi rose to oppose Khalwale’s request and asked Temporary Speaker Joyce Laboso to reject it since it was under probe by the Health Committee.
Mbadi said: “There is a ministerial statement that I had sought before the Public Account Committee chaired by Hon Khalwale and the Speaker made a very clear ruling that if the matter is before the committee we have to wait for the committee to complete it task, I am yet to understand how this can be different.”
“If he wants to engage in party politics we are ready but this is not the floor; if Khalwale wants to continue playing to the gallery then Masinde Muliro Gardens is there he can go address his people there,” said Shebesh.
Isiolo South MP Abdul Bahari and Gichugu’s Martha Karua joined the growing list of MPs demanding that the Auditor General carry out an audit of NHIF Funds instead of the Efficiency Monitoring Unit at the PM’s office to avoid suspicions of a government cover-up.
“If anyone wants to unearth what is going on at NHIF – which I believe is a big one – then Kenya National Audit Office should be involved,” stated Bahari.
“We cannot be gagged merely because the committee is on. The last time there was an investigation of a scam under the PM’s office namely the maize scandal nothing came out of it. It will be seen as a cover up,” said the Gichugu MP.
Machakos MP Kioko Munyaka and Kimilili MP Esieli Simiyu who sit on the parliamentary Health Committee appealed for the House to defer the debate on the NHIF issue until they are done with it.
Simiyu told the House that the committee might submit the report to the House in a month’s time.