Irregularities cited in Mandera’s Sh480m Covid items procurement

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Taxpayers could have got a raw deal in the procurement of Covid-19 items worth Sh480 million by the Mandera county government.

A special report on the utilisation of Covid-19 funds by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu shows several irregularities in the procurements.

They include use of inappropriate procurement methods where the county dished out tenders through restricted tendering contrary to the law, irregular processes and unsupported expenditures.

Mandera, the report shows, undertook procurements worth Sh431.83 million through request for quotations and did not meet the threshold set under the regulations.

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“These procurement processes should have been done through open tender since the amounts involved were above the RFQ threshold,” the report says.

The report was tabled in the Senate.

The county incurred expenditure amounting to Sh39.85 million through questionable procurement procedures.

The evaluations were done before opening of quotations and there were no opening and evaluation meeting minutes while letters of appointments for opening and evaluation committees were missing.

In what may likely trigger investigative agencies to swing into action, Governor Ali Roba’s administration could not explain the expenditure of Sh21.87 million since there were no documentation and supporting schedules.

They include Sh7.87 million from the county own source revenue and Sh14.01 million grants from the national government.

In addition, the county undertook procurements worth Sh431.83 million without professional opinion from the county’s head of procurement contrary to Section 84 (1) of the Public Procurement and Assent Disposal Act.

“In the absence of the professional opinions, it was not possible to ascertain if the procurement processes were in accordance with the Act,” the audit report says.

The Act states that the head of procurement function of a procuring entity shall, alongside the report to the evaluation committee as secretariat comments, review the tender evaluation report and provide a signed professional opinion to the accounting officer on the procurement or asset disposal proceeds.

But Gathungu appeared to read mischief in the decision by the county to close down its Treasury building on the same day the special audit was to commence.

As a result, the county did not avail certified copies of Ifmis statements for audit to authenticate the transactions.

The county procurement came under scrutiny for providing illegible documents for audit review in the payments of Sh3.30 million to Rivital Power thus inhibiting the audit review process.

The payment was made for renovation of maternity and staff quarters at the Mandera Referral Hospital.

“Further, it was not possible to confirm proposed civil works at Elwak Isolation Centre and renovations at Girisa Dispensary amounting to Sh3.79 million and Sh3.17 million respectively due to the security situation in the country.”

Gathungu criticised the county for not preparing appropriate systems and procedures to guide emergency procurement of Covid-19 items.

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