Concern over ‘secrecy’ in equipment lease deal

Stakeholders in the multi-billion-shilling medical equipment leasing scheme have poked holes into the project, saying contract details are shrouded in secrecy.

During a public forum hosted by Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Nairobi last Thursday it emerged that three years since the government launched the Managed Equipment Services Partnership (MES) project, which county governments were allegedly forced to sign, a lot of details in the contract remain obscure.

Stakeholders, including county governments and suppliers, questioned why the government was silent on the contract details of the Sh38 billion project which was initially to last seven years before it was reviewed to 12 years.

 This review, IEA said, raised the cost of the project from Sh38 billion to Sh65 billion, a cost to be footed by taxpayers.

“The secrecy around the project raises questions on transparency, accountability and legitimacy of the initiative, which was meant to help Kenyans attain the highest possible standards of health,” said IEA’s programme coordinator John Mutua.

       Aligned to needs

He said the obscure details of the contract and contract progress report makes it impossible to evaluate how cost effective the project is.

 “It is also not possible to know whether it is aligned to the needs and priorities of counties,” he added.

 For instance, Mutua said out of  the Sh38 billion estimated cost of the MES project, National Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich proposed that Sh5 billion be allocated to the Health ministry for the financial year 2017/18. 

“Perhaps this is why Treasury slashed the counties medical budget by Sh1 billion in the 2016/17 financial year,” said Mutua, adding that Parliament was not privy to this contract.

Philips project manager Edward Mwagore said the company, which has installed and maintains ICU equipment in 11 hospitals, had not received feedback from the Health ministry despite adhering to the contract terms.

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