Economy

Sh9 billion Covid-19 cash lies idle in CBK vaults

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Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani Thursday told Parliament that the idle cash includes Sh9.38 billion recovered from graft and money laundering cases as part of efforts to beef up the Covid-19 emergency fund.
  • The recoveries were by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Assets Recovery Authority (ARA).
  • Donations comprise Sh215.9 million from voluntary pay cuts by public servants, including President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Cabinet secretaries, as well as another Sh300.9million in contributions from individuals and private firms.

The Treasury is sitting on cash pile of Sh9.9 billion in donations from State agencies, voluntary salary cuts and money seized from graft lords amid rising coronavirus infections and a shortage of key medical kits in the counties.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani Thursday told Parliament that the idle cash includes Sh9.38 billion recovered from graft and money laundering cases as part of efforts to beef up the Covid-19 emergency fund.

The recoveries were by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Assets Recovery Authority (ARA).

Donations comprise Sh215.9 million from voluntary pay cuts by public servants, including President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Cabinet secretaries, as well as another Sh300.9million in contributions from individuals and private firms.

The cash pile, which are sitting in accounts at the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and the National Bank of Kenya (NBK), raises questions about the government’s strategy in deploying the funds raised for emergencies.

“I wish further to inform you that domestically through the Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund, we have mobilised Sh9.9 billion which has not been utilised to date,” Mr Yatani told the National Assembly’s Health committee last evening.

He also disclosed that the Treasury had so far received Sh134 billion for the fight against Covid-19 from various bilateral and multilateral development partners out of which Sh130.4 billion had already been disbursed, leaving a balance of Sh4.79 billion as at the end of financial year 2019/20.

“The balance will be utilised in the current financial year for continued Covid-19 pandemic interventions,” he said.

The Sh9.9 billion cash pile could offer a boost to the fight against the coronavirus especially at a time when several counties are racing to meet the target of 300 isolation beds set by President Uhuru Kenyatta as part of their preparedness for the infections surge as at July .

Kenya has been struggling in its quest to enhance testing for the virus due to a shortage of chemical reagents used in analysing samples extracted from nasal swabs in government laboratories. The devolved units had procured an accumulative total of 11,934 isolation beds across all the 47 county governments, out of which 26 had attained the target as at July 24.

Council of Governors (CoG) chairman Wycliffe Oparanya warned that the 20 counties would only be able to meet the target if the Treasury made cash available for procuring the beds.

The CoG data shows that Kenya had a total of 447 ICU beds and 437 ventilators with procurement of additional lifesaving equipment underway.

Kenya Thursday recorded 650 new Covid-19 cases from 6,768 samples tested in 24 hours raising the total caseload to 28,754.

In the same period, four more patients succumbed to the disease, raising the deaths to 460.

Mr Yatani said Kenya received loans of Sh78.3 billion from the International Monetary Fund, Sh32.9 billion from the World Bank and Sh22.4 billion from African Development Fund towards Covid-19 emergency response. The Danish government granted Kenya Sh350 million.

Mr Yatani disclosed that Sh170.3 million had been directly wired to Gradian Health Systems, New York for purchase of Ventilators. This translates to 40 per cent advance payment.

The Treasury said it had disbursed additional Sh10.2 billion from the national government share of revenue since March 2020 through the Ministry of Health to the 47 county governments.

The amount comprises Sh9.7 billion from the government and Sh502 million from the Danish International Development Agency. Out of the Sh9.7 billion, Sh5 billion was shared among counties to set up requisite infrastructure for urgent response, Sh2.4 billion was paid as allowances for frontline health workers and Sh850 million was used to cushion vulnerable groups in four counties.

The Treasury said Sh1.5 billion was ring-fenced by Parliament to specific hospitals due to a surge of Covid-19 cases in those counties and their surroundings.