NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 17 – Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki was Thursday expected to appear before a Senate Ad Hoc Committee to shed light on why the counties continue to be charged for medical equipment leased by the national government under the Medical Equipment Services (MES) scheme without their consent.
While appearing before the committee chaired by Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dulo on Wednesday, Council of Governors (CoG) Chairperson Wycliffe Oparanya said the counties signed a Memorandum of Understanding under duress.
The counties are said to have paid Sh25.9bn between 2015 to 2019 for the equipment which remains unused in some county due to lack of a trained workforce.
The county governments have been paying Sh95mn annually from 2015 to 2018 for the leasing of the equipment supplied, a figure that has now risen to Sh200mn annually.
On Wednesday Oparanya told a Senate Ad Hoc committee led by Isiolo senator Fatuma Dulo that none of the forty-seven governors knows the value of the medical equipment supplied and as the council boss, his hands are tied.
“You have a mandate over 48 million Kenyans, if you were forced to sign a contract or a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that you knew nothing about, then you have failed Kenyans. Are you aware that up-to now counties have paid 29.5 billion shillings?’’ Dulo asked.
In his response, the council boss said he was not aware of how much has been spent.
“I am not aware because that information is not availed to us. I want you to tell me what you would have done if you were in my position. Equipment have already been brought to counties and it is not in my position to investigate under which circumstances they were brought to us,” Oparanya replied.
His answer was received with criticism by senators who accused the governor and the council at large of laxity in their mandate as custodians of the devolved units.
“How can someone supply equipment to your office without notice, no prior agreement, without a contract and you go ahead and sign the MOU? Is this what our country has been reduced to? Some of the equipment have never been used and it just shows how taxpayer money is being misused,” Nyandarua Senator Mwangi Githiomi expressed.
His sentiments were echoed by other committee members who expressed disappointment in the manner in which the CoG has handled the matter with some Senators accusing governors of conspiring with the Ministry of Health to dupe the taxpayer.
“You cannot sign an MOU of a project that you were not involved in, the amount of leasing continues to vary, no contract yet, the council of governors does nothing about it, and you tell me there is no conspiracy. You need to make us understand this matter and we need credible answers,” said Nominated Senator Judith Pareno.
Although Oparanya insisted that CoG raised the matter with the Auditor General, Attorney General and Controller of Budget, the committee instructed him to submit documents that show his engagements with the three within seven days.
He was further instructed to submit an inventory showing medical equipment each county received.