NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 16 – The Council of Governors (CoG) now wants the National Government to suspend the e-procurement system in counties.
Speaking in Mombasa, CoG chairman Peter Munya stated that the system is hampering effective service delivery due to lack of proper infrastructure to support the system.
He urged the National Treasury to suspend the program to allow the counties to set the requisite infrastructure.
“The council has decided that the e procurement system must be suspended with immediate effect until the supporting infrastructure is in place. The council is in the process of writing to the President pointing out these issues. We are also prepared to go to court if anybody tries to undermine the proper functioning of the counties by insisting that we must continue to use a system that is not working,” he stated.
The new system, meant to curb embezzlement of public funds has centralised procurement services in all levels of the government.
“There is no law that requires we must do that and since it is not possible to do it anyway because that infrastructure is not there, we are saying that we are not going to use it and we are asking Treasury to immediately authorise the counties to start doing their work without going through e-procurement,” Munya stated.
He stated that the e-procurement system was adopted in good faith by County Governments but counties have continued to face serious implementation challenges to the level of paralysis.
“The system has recentralised procurement and contributed to marginalisation of locals in tendering. In essence, citizens who do not have access to Internet are denied the opportunity to participate in procurement at the county level. Essentially, this is abusing the constitutional principle of equity since the mama mboga’s and local contractors in counties are locked out of procurement opportunities for lack of infrastructure required,” he said.
He said that due to malfunctioning of the system, counties have been unable to promptly pay pending bills to contractors and suppliers thereby causing anxiety and giving an impression that they are unable to settle their bills.
“Some counties particularly those in northern Kenya still lack power and fibre optic infrastructure critical for implementation of e-procurement not forgetting literacy levels of most residents. In some instances, the system is only opened for a few hours thereby rendering the use of the same difficult. To illustrate, one county was allowed to access the system for two hours only in two weeks,” he explained.
He pointed out that some counties do not have the requisite infrastructure like network coverage to allow for the proper setting up of the system.
“The directive issued for the e-procurement system is not anchored in law. The Public Procurement and Disposal Act of 2005 is the governing law for procurement and does not envisage electronic tendering. The system is not fully electronic, it is manual only to the point of payment. For the above reasons, the council has agreed that the e-procurement system must be suspended with immediate effect until the supporting infrastructure is in place,” he stated.
He pointed out County Governments have made commendable strides in the provision of health services though several challenges are still being experienced.
“County Governments are progressively employing qualified health staff in rural health facilities to replace all unskilled and untrained community health personnel previously allowed by the national government to operate,” he said.
He said that funding in the sector has not always been enough with allocations for county health services being meagre.
“County Governments are providing approximately 90percent of health services across the country, yet they receive less than 45pc of the total health funds. National Government has Sh50 billion yet they manage few hospitals. The sharable revenue must be increased and human resource funds must be ring-fenced,” he said.
He stated that the council agreed that all counties will sign the Recognition Agreements with duly registered county based unions.
He stressed that despite the challenges, the council reaffirms its commitment to the success of devolution.