Senate team summons governors for grilling over alleged misuse of Covid cash

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 31 Mar, 2021 15:25 | 2 mins read
Parliament. PHOTO | FILE
Parliament. PHOTO | FILE

A parliamentary committee has summoned all 47 governors and their Executive teams to appear before them to shed light on how they spent billions of public resources sent to counties to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in the 2019/2020 financial year.

The Senate Health Committee will be probing how the devolved units consumed the monies, the bulk of the donations from the national government and other donors, as they battled the contagion.

This follows an in-depth analysis by the committee on Auditor-General’s Special Audit Report on the utilization of COVID-19 funds by the county governments.

In the report, Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu cited several violations and recommended to the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to investigate at least 27 counties.

They include Embu, Homabay, Murang'a, Busia, Kakamega, Meru, Bomet, Kisii, Bungoma, Nairobi (Nairobi Metropolitan Service), Trans Nzoia and Lamu counties.

The report reveals that the counties flouted procurement laws, awarded tenders to select firms and made questionable payments where billions of taxpayer's money may have been lost.

In addition, the devolved units did not put in place approved work plans, procurement policies, conduct training schedules specific to covid-19 activities or conduct market surveys prior to procurements.

“In this regard , it is recommended that the EACC and the DCI conduct further investigations to establish acts of criminality in inventory management of the covid-19 related items,” the report reads in part.

Trans-Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito, who chairs the committee while tabling a report on preliminary findings of the committee on the special audit report of the Auditor-General on the utilization of Covid-19 funds by county governments said his panel has summoned several governors to explain the illegalities and irregularities flagged by the auditor in her report.

“I wish to inform the House that the committee is seized of the special audit report of the Auditor-General on the utilization of Covid-19 funds by the county governments and is set to commence hearings with various county governments,” Mbito said.

“The committee is scheduled to hold hearings with the 47 county governments in the coming weeks. The hearings will be held for purposes of seeking clarifications from the Counties on the findings of the Special Audit Report, and establishing the level of pandemic preparedness and response across the counties,” he added.

According to him, his committee intends to hold hearings with two counties per day, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“At an average rate of six counties per week, the Committee expects to finalize conducting its hearings in approximately two months,” he added.