Parliament launches probe into Corona donor funds

By Mercy Mwai
Thursday, August 6th, 2020
Covid-19 vaccine. Photo/Courtesy
In summary

The National Assembly has launched investigations into how the government has spent billions of donor funds it received for the fight against Covid 19 pandemic.

Parliament will also inquire into how the government has disbursed money meant to cushion vulnerable groups against the effects of the coronavirus.

Homa Bay County Woman representative Gladys Wanga who chairs the Finance Committee, said she would give a progress report to the House in three weeks on the matter.

“We shall look at this matter with finality and because of these virtual sittings, we need three weeks to be able to brief this House,” she told Parliament yesterday.

The matter was referred to the Wanga team following a demand by Soy Member of Parliament (MP) Caleb Kositany for a breakdown on the use of the funds, including Sh40 billion released in April for the campaign to prevent the spread of the virus.

He said: “I seek a statement from the chairperson Departmental Committee on Finance and Planning to explain how the utilisation of over Sh40 billion has been spent during prevention and management of the spread of coronavirus in the county.” 

Questions have been raised over how the billions received so far have been spent in the fight against the pandemic, especially on purchase of Personal Protective gears, ventilators and other medical items.

Kenya has so far secured over Sh223 billion to fight the pandemic including Sh78.3 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Sh108 billion from the World Bank in addition to Sh6.8 billion support allocated to the Health ministry to boost preparedness and response.

Other funds include Sh22.5billion from the African Development Bank as concessional loan as well as Sh7.5 billion rants from the European Union.

Government ministries and counties have been accused of exploiting the pandemic to violate procurement laws, and order goods worth billions of shillings in bulk from little known companies and briefcase entities, some of which had no capacity to deliver.

Already the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission (EACC) is investigating top officials at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) in relation to a controversial Sh7.7 billion shilling tender for the emergency procurement of Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment

Top officials

The commission is concerned that the tender was hurriedly awarded to a company known as KILIG Limited using direct procurement under the cover of emergency needs, despite the fact that they were given three months to supply as opposed to one month. 

The World Heath Organisation (WHO) has also asked the government to release funds to counties to support them in the fight against the virus.

Besides the Corona funds, Kositany is seeking to establish how much the National Intelligence Service (NIS) has spent on contact tracing.

According to Kositany, NIS should not be allocated extra funding for contact tracing, arguing that the task was part of its mandate. 

“How much has been spent on NlS during the period and why would it need extra funding to undertake what it was established for?,” he posed. 

Kositany seeks to know how many health workers have been recruited and what they are paid as salaries and allowances as well as measures taken to protect them.

He wants to know the amount of money collected from citizens who pay for quarantine and the number of elderly persons paid from the kitty established by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Other areas the MP is demanding answers include the amount of money paid to Small Medium Enterprises to cushion their business during the pandemic as well as the money that Kenya Revenue Authority has received as tax refunds.