Entrepreneurs in the special interest groups of youth, women and persons with disabilities (PWDs) took up contracts worth Sh104.8 billion that were floated by government entities, according to data that the Treasury has presented to the Senate.
All ministries, the Judiciary, Parliament and State corporations have awarded 106,298 contracts to these entrepreneurs since the programme’s inception in 2013.
Parliament heard that women entrepreneurs took the biggest share of 56,313 contracts worth Sh54.9 billion, representing 52.39 percent of the total contracts awarded to benefiting groups.
“Youth entrepreneurs received 43,931 contracts worth Sh45.9 billion or 43.85 percent while persons with disabilities got 5,554 contracts worth Sh3.9 billion, representing 3.77 percent of the total contracts’ awards,” the Treasury told the Senate Committee on National Cohesion, Equal Opportunities and Regional Integration.
The Treasury statistics tabled by Chief Administrative Secretary Nelson Gaichuhie show that ministries awarded the special interest groups the bulk of the total contracts given in the past five years, worth Sh63.8 billion.
Parastatals and semi-autonomous government agencies awarded the vulnerable groups contracts worth Sh33.7 billion, followed by counties (Sh3.15 billion) and constitutional commissions (Sh1.6 billion).
Mr Gaichuhie, who represented CS Ukur Yattani, appeared before the Naomi Waqo-led committee to provide the status of implementation of the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO).
The 2015 Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act requires that 30 percent of all State tenders be reserved for special groups.
However, previous data shows that the special groups are yet to hit the 30 percent mark.
Treasury said it had put in place strategies to empower special groups to access tenders from ministries, the State Law Office and Department of Justice, Judiciary, the Parliamentary Service Commission and parastatals.
“Pursuant to Section 157 (17), the National Treasury has established a preference and reservation section under the public procurement department to undertake registration, prequalification and certification of the person, categories of persons or groups into the programme,” Mr Yattani said.
As of September 20, the section had registered a total of 111,739 businesses belonging to youth, women and persons with disabilities.
Out of the number of businesses registered, 60,159 belonged to youth, 46,370 to women and 5,210 for PWDs.
Former President Mwai Kibaki initiated the affirmative action programme to help the youth compete for government tenders.
President Uhuru Kenyatta expanded it to include women and persons with disabilities besides raising the threshold from 10 to 30 percent.
However, recent indications show that rich and influential individuals may be exploiting this programme – ultimately deepening the rift between the rich and the poor and negating the original intention of the plan.
A firm associated with a senior State officer was, for instance, among those awarded supply contracts by the Ministry of Health under the preferential access window.
However, the firm has defended itself from accusations of wrongdoing, saying that it is owned by women.