The Controller of Budget (CoB) is on the spot for irregularly authorising the release of Sh29.1 billion for counties medical kits.
Appearing before the Senate ad hoc committee on medical leasing equipment, acting CoB Stephen Masha said his office only relied on memorandums of understanding (MoU) between Ministry of Health and counties to authorise release of the specialised healthcare funds from Treasury.
Under the Medical Equipment Services (MES) programme, the Ministry of Health has contracted four firms to supply specialised medical kits to the counties for treatment of diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Senators charged that the CoB’s action was in breach of Article 187 of the Constitution that says a function can only be transferred from one level of the government to the other only in the existence of an agreement and arrangements in place to guarantee its performance.
“We did not see any agreement. As an office, we only got the MoU that is provision of medical equipment and related services. We are not privy to the lease agreements,” Mr Masha told the committee.
The Treasury allocated Sh4.5 billion every year or Sh95.7 million per county in the 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 periods.
The amount was, however increased to Sh9.4 billion or Sh200 million per county in the 2018/19 period. In the year to next June, it has been reduced to Sh6.2 billion or Sh131.9 million per county.
The CoB audits budgets for the national and county governments and is required to flag suspicious allocations and expenditures. It was, however unable to explain the reasons behind the funding per county.
“Whenever it comes to planning, we have no mandate in influencing what is allocated to each department,” Mr Masha added.
Health secretary Sicily Kariuki had last year said the weakening of the shilling against the dollar occasioned the rise in allocations with senators calling for suspension of the programme pending an audit into its impact.
Counties said that they were not consulted by the ministry on their needs for the medical kits before its roll-out with some like Nyamira separately having purchased a CT-scan machine which was to be to be supplied under the deal.