Former PS risks fine or jail over Sh63bn health equipment deal

Former Health PS Khadijah Kassachoon before the Senate ad hoc committee at Parliament Building on July 27, 2020.  PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • After consultations, the committee resolved not to give her another chance and warned her of consequences.
  • The cost of the MES contract was initially set at Sh38 billion but later rose to almost Sh63 billion after variation.

Former Health Principal Secretary Khadijah Kassachoon risks being fined Sh200,000 or being jailed for six months for failing to provide documents relating to the Sh63 billion Managed Equipment Service (MES) project.

Dr Kassachoon, who on Monday appeared before the Senate ad hoc committee probing the MES scandal, failed, for the second time, to provide satisfactory answers to questions on the project.

Despite being the accounting officer during the conceptualisation of the multibillion-shilling project, Dr Kassachoon could not give the Fatuma Dulo-led committee details such as needs assessment, the level of counties’ involvement in the project, or cost of the equipment, among other issues.

CONSEQUENCES

 “I asked the PS (Health) on Friday to provide me with the documents since I was scheduled to appear before this committee but she told me she had set up a team to collate them for me,” she told the committee.

After consultations, the committee resolved not to give her another chance and warned her of consequences.

“It is an offence to fail to give a parliamentary committee evidence as required. You can actually be imprisoned for six months or pay a fine of Sh200, 000 or both,” Ms Dulo warned.

“You were in a senior position and played a big role, especially in the procurement, and when we write our report, it might implicate you,” Ms Dulo added.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula, the committee’s vice-chairperson, said Dr Kassachoon’s conduct was an indication of what transpired during the procurement of the equipment.

VALUE FOR MONEY

“You were the accounting officer of a ministry that gobbles billions of taxpayers’ money every financial year, if these are the answers you can give this committee, then we now know the genesis of this scandal,” Mr Wetangula said.

Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua said Dr Kassachoon either doesn’t want to share information or does not know how government operates. The committee is investigating whether the public got value for money in the deal, after various reports indicated that some of the expensive equipment leased to the counties is lying idle due to lack of qualified personnel to use them.

The cost of the MES contract was initially set at Sh38 billion but later rose to almost Sh63 billion after variation.

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