NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 17 – Efforts by a Senate Ad Hoc Committee to probe circumstances under which the Counties were supplied with Medical Equipment Services (MES) without a contract took a different turn after the Ministry of Health gave a contradicting account from that of Council of Governors (CoG).
Health Cabinet Secretary Cicily Kariuki was Thursday put to task to shed light and explain why the government through her ministry supplied Medical Equipment Services to the counties without consultations and continues to charge devolved units, yet they have never seen the contract.
In a heated discussion between the CS and a Senate Ad Hoc committee led by Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dulo, the CS said the counties do not pay for medical equipment adding that the governors were consulted and agreed to the Memorandum of Understanding to receive conditional grants.
“I am speaking to Kenyans here honorable members and I am not lying on anything. I have sat with governors and the fact of the matter is that there was a meeting in 2013 at the Multimedia University where they were consulted on the project and they agreed to it,” Kariuki said.
“I can tell you for sure that the counties have not been paying anything for the Medical Equipment Services and leasing payment is channeled by national government. The only money the counties contribute to is on conditional grants.”
Committee members dismissed the CS indicating the House team was in receipt of documents that showed indeed counties have already paid Sh25.9bn for the MES since 2015.
“We cannot let that pass and when you are lying to Kenyans, we have to correct you instantly. The only difficulty Madam chairperson is allowing the Minister to shift gear and make a categorical pronouncement that she is now going to tell Kenyans the truth as if we have not been telling the truth,” Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula said.
His sentiments were echoed by other committee members who also sought to understand why the National Treasury is currently deducting Sh200mn annually from county government allocations up from Sh95mn that they were being charged from 2015 to 2018.
“I will give an example of Bomet county here. The governor never signed the MOU, yet they received the equipment and they are charged for services they did not ask for. Again, why are counties paying the same amount of money, yet the population and the number of hospitals is totally different?” Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga questioned.
“I am thankful to you for coming and I must admit that your submissions were candid, and you have helped us to fortify our position that MES is a frightening scam,” Wetangula added.
After a back and forth debate between the CS and the committee members, the chairperson resorted to invite the former health CS James Macharia who is now the Transport CS to appear before the committee and shed more light on why the counties continue to be charged for medical equipment leased by the national government scheme without their consent.
Macharia was the Health CS when the MOU was signed.
On Wednesday, the CoG chairperson Wycliffe Oparanya told the committee that they were coerced into signing the MOU 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.