Senate committee trashes medical equipment project as ‘criminal enterprise’

Former AG Githu Muigai who said his advice on the MES project was ignored.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Senators recommended all public officers found culpable be prosecuted and barred from holding public office.
  • Some of the equipment was either overpriced, substandard, delivered late, or not delivered at all.
  • The Committee recommends that money meant for the project should be deposited to the County Revenue Fund as required by the Constitution.
  •  

A parliamentary investigation has concluded that the Sh63 billion leasing of medical equipment for counties was a “criminal enterprise” designed to enrich a few individuals but fell short of naming those responsible. 

Senators recommended all public officers found culpable of illegalities in the Managed Equipment Service (MES) procurement, which they said was done “in the furtherance of the adverse commercial interests” at the expense of Kenyans be prosecuted and barred from holding public office. 

The report by the Senate ad-hoc Committee said that, although the programme had a noble goal to help the public access quality healthcare, the persons involved “from start to finish implemented the project in a manner that violated the very constitution and the sacred principles it was originally conceived under.”

According to the report tabled in the House Tuesday, the project signed at State House Nairobi in 2015 had a pre-determined outcome as the suppliers of the multi-million equipment were well known by Ministry of Health officials even before tenders were advertised.

The Ministry of Health went on a buying spree despite a needs assessment confirming that counties lacked adequate capacity to absorb the equipment.

Some of the equipment was either overpriced, substandard, delivered late, or not delivered at all and the committee recommends that private firms as well as individuals found culpable of illegal acts in procurement should be barred from doing business with both levels of government.

Opaque procurement processes

“As a matter of fact, the committee has established that the MES project was a criminal enterprise shrouded in opaque procurement processes and that the Ministry of Health relied on a faulty tool to justify a pre-determined outcome in relation to the award of tenders that likely resulted to impudent use of public Finance Management Act that forbids wasteful expenditure,” reads the report.

“The MES project is the only project where conditional grants meant for county governments and appropriated under the County Allocation of Revenue Acts are unconstitutionally paid directly to the Ministry of Health instead of being deposited in the respective County Revenue Funds contrary to Article 207 of the Constitution,” the report further reads.

To amend this, the Committee recommends that money meant for the project should be deposited to the County Revenue Fund as required by the Constitution.

The tenders of the project were awarded to Shenzhen Mindary Bio Medical electronics Co.Ltd, Esteem Industries,M/S Sysmex Europe, GMBH, Bellco S.R.L, Philips Medical Systems Nederland BV, GE East Africa Services Limited.

The Committee faulted Ministry of Health officials who continuously undermined the role of the Attorney General as the principal legal adviser to the government by concealing material facts and disregarding the AG’s advice. When he testified before the committee in July former Attorney-General Githu Muigai said his advice on the project was ignored.

[email protected]