Suppliers of Kemsa face surcharge in Covid probe

 Kennedy Ogeto

Solicitor-General Kennedy Ogeto

Companies and individuals who received inflated payments for Covid-19-related supplies to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) will be surcharged, Solicitor-General Kennedy Ogeto claimed.

Mr Ogeto told the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee (PIC) that all pending payments would be reviewed to match the present market rates.

“If anyone was overpaid in a flawed and illegal contract, we have the right to recover the difference and prefer criminal action on parties involved,” Mr Ogeto told the committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir that is scrutinising a special audit report on procurement of Covid-19 items worth Sh7.8 billion.

Kemsa is under investigations after a forensic audit by the 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.

The report currently under scrutiny by PIC said Ms Gladlab Supplies Limited had on April 9,2020 offered to supply Kemsa with surgical face masks with ear-loops at a discounted price of $30 (Sh3,183) per box of 50 pieces, down from an earlier quote of Sh4,750.

Suspended Kemsa chief executive officer Jonah Manjari, however, ignored the discount offer and instead requested companies to supply the items for Sh4,500 a pack as had allegedly been agreed during negotiations between the supplier and the agency’s tender evaluation committee.

The Solicitor-General yesterday told Parliament that those who flouted the law would be held criminally liable while companies found to have inflated prices pursued for recoveries.

He, however, told MPs that the law provides a remedy of “quantum meirut” in instances where a contract does not exist or cannot be performed.

Mr Ogeto explained that the doctrine means “reasonable payments for works done.” “The import of the doctrine is to ensure that even where there has been non-compliance with the law, none of the illegal contracts benefits from the contract at the expense of the other,” he said.