PPRA: Kemsa listed suppliers as ‘government’s strategic partners’

A review by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority shows that suppliers of the Covid-19 related items to Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) were listed as the “government’s strategic partners”, to earn them a special treatment during tendering.

The watchdog said the “government strategic partners” label exempted them from strict vetting—giving them an upper hand to win the lucrative tenders.

PPRA’s audit report also shows that there was no criteria for qualification for the said suppliers.

For instance there was a case where M/s Zebra Investments Limited was awarded tender No.KEMSA/DP160/2019/2020 having been identified by Kemsa as government of Kenya strategic partner and issued with commitment letter on June 3 despite the firm not meeting eligibility requirements as provided in section 55(1)(a) of Procurement Act 2015.

“Although M/s Zebra Investments Limited was awarded tender number for supply of Viral Transport Media…, a response from Kemsa and Business Registration Service shows that the firm changed from business name to a limited company on June 14, 2020,” reads part of the report.

The authority also told Parliament that the embattled Kemsa denied it access to scrutinise documents for 23 tenders.

From 141 tenders that were to be received by PPRA at the close of business on August 5, 116 documents were submitted on August 13 and 8 more documents days later despite authority expressing need to investigate the remaining 23 tenders.

PPRA said letters from Susan Mochache (PS, Ministry of Health Principal) letters of intent from suppliers and commitment letters from suspended Kemsa CEO Jonah Manjari to the suppliers, set on the procurement proceedings for the subject tenders.

PPRA established that the procurement plan estimates on items like paracetamol tablets 500mg Blister of 100s was previously sold at Sh40 per pack but were bought at an inflated price of Sh66.50.

Alcohol-based sanitiser which was initially planned at Sh313 was bought at Sh495.

The National Assembly is currently probing the procurement of covid-19 items valued at Sh7.8 billion. Kemsa procured the items at inflated prices.

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