Economy

Kemsa seeks Covid kits despite ongoing inquiry

Kemsa offices

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority's offices in Industrial Area, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

edwinmutai_img

Summary

  • The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) is seeking to procure more Covid-19 health products despite an unresolved inquiry into the irregular purchase of Sh7.8 billion coronavirus kits.
  • The State agency, which is undergoing restructuring due to a lack of financial controls, deadstock and purchase of non-priority items, has asked suppliers to place bids for the supply of Covid-19 health products.

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) is seeking to procure more Covid-19 health products despite an unresolved inquiry into the irregular purchase of Sh7.8 billion coronavirus kits.

The State agency, which is undergoing restructuring due to a lack of financial controls, deadstock and purchase of non-priority items, has asked suppliers to place bids for the supply of Covid-19 health products.

“The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority on behalf of the Government of Kenya, Ministry of Health, invites sealed tender…for supply of Covid-19 Health Products III,” the Kemsa said in a notice to suppliers on Friday.

The suppliers have been asked to submit bids for tender GF ATM COVID-19 RESPONSE-2021/22-OIT-01 on or before February 10, 2022. The tender closes at 10am.

The agency is issuing the tender under the category of Global Fund for the supply of unidentified Covid-19 goods.




Kemsa floated a separate tender for purchase of oxygen cylinders and bulk liquid oxygen for treatment of patients under financing from Agence Francaise De Development (AFD).

The fresh Covid-19 kits procurement by Kemsa is likely to raise eyebrows from Kenyans following the procurement debacle that saw Kemsa buy protective gear at inflated prices when the first case of coronavirus was reported in March 2020.

Kemsa bought the Covid-19 emergency equipment at Sh6.3 billion in a procurement the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) flagged as irregular and recommended charges against some officials.

A special audit by Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu showed that Kemsa may realise a loss of Sh2.33 billion if the products, which were stuck at its warehouses, are sold at the current market price.

The forensic audit revealed that Kemsa management led by suspended chief Executive Jonah Manjari rejected discounts by suppliers of Covid-19-related items.

The audit found that Kemsa officials chose to pay Sh4,500 for a pack of 50 face masks, way above the Sh3,183 quoted by suppliers — a variation equivalent to 41.37 percent.

Paracetamol tablets sold at Sh40 per pack were bought for Sh66.50 during the pandemic, while alcohol-based hand sanitiser priced at Sh313 was purchased at Sh495, the report said.

The Auditor-General said that besides the inflated prices, Kemsa failed to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment of the Covid-19 purchases.

Dr Manjari remains suspended alongside directors Eliud Muriithi (Commercial) and Charles Juma (Procurement) while investigations continue into the Covid-19 procurement saga.

The National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee (PIC), which called for the forensic audit, wants all 110 firms that supplied Kemsa at inflated prices to refund the government the excess payments.

Scores of public officials and business people have appeared in court in recent months on charges relating to alleged theft of hundreds of millions of shillings from public coffers.

As a result of the cases, the State has either frozen or seized hundreds of millions of shillings in bank accounts and confiscated assets such as homes, land and luxury cars from the suspects.

The PIC chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir recommended that the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) trace and seize bank accounts and property such as cars, homes and land that was bought using proceeds of irregular procurement of Covid-19 emergency equipment by the Kemsa.

The parliamentary committee also wants the Kenya Revenue Authority commissioner-general, Githii Mburu, to launch investigations into all the suppliers that delivered Covid-19 equipment to Kemsa to establish whether they declared and paid taxes to the authority.