Auditor reveals how counties bent laws to create Corona millionaires

Thursday, February 11th, 2021 00:00 | By
Auditor General Nancy Gathungu. Photo/PD/File

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

The Auditor General has unearthed a scheme of how county governments ignored all procurement laws that ended up creating overnight Covid-19 millionaires.

Revelations are contained in a report that was tabled in the Senate yesterday, which revealed how devolved units used the Covid-19 pandemic as a perfect cover to break procurement laws and legal provisions in the provision of items.

This is despite an earlier warning by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission that money being allocated to fight the pandemic is being misused for selfish gain.

The anti-graft agency had further warned that suppliers and contractors who overpriced their goods and supply substandard products will not be spared either.

Report reveals that some counties ordered goods worth billions of shillings in bulk from little-known companies and briefcase entities.

The firms, some even not pre-qualified as suppliers for the items in question and with no financial track record or capacity to deliver, were nonetheless handpicked by counties to supply Covid-19 items.

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu notes in the report, that governors and their officers engaged in ‘acts of criminality,’ leading to possible loss of public funds.

Market survey

According to Gathungu, the 47 counties received Sh7.70 billion in grants, own source budgets and donations to mitigate pandemic at the grassroots.

Report shows at least six counties did not conduct market survey prior to procurement of Covid-19 supplies while 12 others handpicked suppliers’ instead of using competitive process.

They include Busia, Kakamega, Isiolo, Marsabit and Meru procured goods without market survey while Baringo, Busia, Homa Bay, Lamu, Mandera, Meru, Migori Muranga, Narok Nyandarua and Trans Nzoia did not use a competitive procurement process.

“Section 8 (3) (z) of the repealed Public Procurement and Disposal Regulations of 2006 require a procuring entity to carry out periodic market surveys to inform the placing of orders or adjudication by the relevant award committee,” the report.

Kajiado, Kirinyaga, Laikipia and Tharaka Nithi procured the items without signing valid contracts with their suppliers, report adds.

Senate adhoc committee on Covid-19, chaired by Senator Sylvia Kasanga had directed the Auditor to audit the utilisation of funds channeled to fight the pandemic in the counties.

But in what could have provided a fertile ground for tenderpreneurs to thrive, the report indicates counties ignored troubled Kenya Medical Supplies Authority suppliers and instead opted to dish out tenders to private entities.

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