NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 27 – Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu and Permanent Secretary Nicholas Muraguri will on Tuesday face the Senate Health Committee to answer questions on the alleged misappropriation of Sh5 billion.
Committee Chairman Wilfred Machage (Migori) downplayed claims that the duo had snubbed the Committee and explained that they were in possession of communication from the CS’s Office stating that they were holed up in a meeting at the Ministry headquarters collecting documents to present a comprehensive picture to the Committee.
He said the ‘scandal has made a miniature of the National Youth Service fraud’ in which Sh791million was electronically siphoned out of Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) accounts.
Machage said the scandal is weighty and requires swift intervention to save public funds and requested the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) to investigate the alleged theft.
“We will not sit down and watch as people swindle public funds. Something must be done swiftly… Seize property owned by the accused to recover public funds,” said Machage
Senate Minority Deputy Leader Abdurrahman Hassan, nominated Senators Zipporah Kittony and Senator Godliver Omondi asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to suspend Mailu and Muraguri to pave way for investigations on the saga.
Hassan called for a freeze of all assets owned by the PS and all the property to avert loss of public funds until the scandal is addressed.
“When the Tharaka Nithi Deputy Governor had Sh3.5 million snatched by a bodyguard we saw police swing into action and recover some money. We want the same one on Muraguri and his accomplices. Kenyans must be told the truth; the Ministry should allay the fears without delay,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee and the Public Investments Committee will also begin interrogating the Sh5 billion theft at the Ministry of Health.
PAC Chair Nicholas Gumbo said the Committee has already demanded the documents from the Ministry.
This follows revelations in an audit report showing that the money may have been misappropriated through payments on projects not approved in the ministry’s supplementary budget
Although the auditors have complained of difficulties in obtaining information, the Health CS on Wednesday assured that his ministry is open to scrutiny on all funds allocated to it.
“The Ministry wishes to assure the public that it’s treating the interim internal report with the seriousness it deserves and it is open to internal and external scrutiny to ensure transparency and proper utilization of allocated funds,” he stated soon after the Business Daily published a story on the alleged misappropriation.
On his part PIC Chairman Adan Keynan said his Committee will be dealing with audit queries of parastatals under the ministry such as Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) and National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).