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Firm that won Sh1b State tender denies link to Ruto, Sakaja

By Mercy Mwai
Thursday, February 25th, 2021
In summary

A company that won Sh1 billion deal to supply Covid-19 related items only paid Sh687,000 as import tax despite importing about 60 per cent of its goods from China, a parliamentary committee heard yesterday.

The firm, Shop and Buy, won the lucrative tender to supply items to Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) two months after it was registered.

A document tabled before the National Assembly Public Investment Committee by the Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner-General Githii Mburu, shows Shop and Buy only declared goods worth Sh10 million at the port of entry.

Further, the document also shows the firm only transported 9,774 tonnes to Kemsa. At a meeting between the committee and Shop and Buy Director James Chelule, the MPs questioned how a company that supplied goods worth Sh1 billion could only pay taxes in thousands, yet people who supplied goods worth Sh30 million paid more than Sh1 million tax.

“As we can see you only paid taxes worth 687,562 and you only declared goods worth Sh10 million, said committee chairperson and Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir.

However, Cheluley denied claims that Deputy President William Ruto and Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja helped him secure the tender just because the latter was from his community.

He also told the MPs that his firm secured the deal without any assistance from anyone. According to him, MPs should not vilify him, instead commend him for his good work, as he was able to deliver goods on time.

“The fact is that my answers are not being accepted by this committee yet I got this tender alone. I still import and sell Covid-19 products,” he said.

State agencies Cheluley further told the legislators that besides Kemsa, his company has engaged in business with other State agencies like Lamu PortSouth Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport, Kenya National Highways Authority, Kenya Urban Roads Authority, Rivatex, National Housing Corporation Spinal Injury Hospital, Nanyuki Water Company and Maasai Technical Institute.

“We were running advertisements in April and May and that is how most of our clients came to know about us. Most of these entities have paid us except Rivatex, “ he said.

Shop and Buy was registered on February 14, 2020 and awarded contracts worth Sh1,030,000,000 in May to supply 100,000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and 100,000 pieces of KN95 masks.

Firm also supplied Bennets Ventures, Edumart Enterprises and Trade Shop, which also proceeded to supply Kemsa at a profit. His sentiments came after Kemsa Procurement Director Charles Juma told the committee how they were under pressure from the suspended Chief Officer Jonah Manjari to backdate the commitment letter issued to the firm to allow it supply goods to Kemsa.

But immediately he was done, committee members including Abdulswamad Hassan Omar (Mandera East), Tom Kajwang’ (Ruaraka), Ester Passaris (Nairobi), Babu Owino (Embakasi East), Raphel Wanjala (Budalangi), said it is no secret that the firm has a god father and actually supplied air to Kemsa.

While clarifying that the DP had not been mentioned in any of the committee’s proceedings and that Sakaja’s name was only mentioned for having been at Kemsa Chief Officer’s office, Abdulswamad said it was evident that Kemsa did not conduct due diligence before accepting the goods.

“I want to clarify that you are the one who has said that people have associated you with the DP and that the Deputy President’s name has never featured in this committee at all. It is the first time it’s being invoked in this committee by you,” he said.

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