President Ruto ends Sh47.7bn county medical equipment deal

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta and his then deputy William Ruto inspect medical equipment

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta and his then deputy William Ruto inspect medical equipment procured through the Managed Equipment Services project at State House, Nairobi.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has ended funding for the controversial leasing of medical equipment by counties even as he increased the equitable revenue share allocation to the devolved units.

The National Treasury has not allocated any money for the programme in the proposed budget for the financial year 2023/24, signalling an end to the programme that has been mired in controversy since its inception.

This comes after the contract between counties and firms that were contracted to lease the medical equipment lapsed in December last year after three years.

Five global firms – General Electric from the United States, Philips from the Netherlands, Bellco SGL from Italy, Esteem from India and Mindray Biomedical of China – had won the lucrative leasing tender.

The medical leasing deal was unveiled by former President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2015, with the firms leasing specialised equipment for theatre, renal treatment, ICU and radiology to the counties. At least Sh47.7 billion has been spent on the programme in eight years.

Idle kits

There was controversy around the deal as many of the medical kits lay idle due to a lack of specialised staff to operate them. The government had argued that leasing would save counties the high upfront cost of buying the kits, with the added benefit that the contracted firms would maintain and service the kits.

At the same time, the draft Budget Policy Statement shows counties have been allocated Sh380 billion in equitable revenue, an increase of Sh10 billion from the Sh370 billion they got in the last two financial years.

“The proposal to increase the equitable share to Sh380 billion in the FY2023/24 is equivalent to 26.8 per cent of the last audited accounts (Sh1.414 trillion for FY 2017/18),” said Treasury.

Further, counties have been allocated Sh32.91 billion in additional revenue allocation from loans and grants and a Sh776 million supplement for the construction of county headquarters.

Treasury has also allocated Sh7.5 billion to the Equalization Fund, an increase from Sh7.06 billion in the current financial year.