Selfish Kenyan legislators have rejected the National Treasury’s proposal to allocate Sh1.5 billion to purchase Covid-19 testing kits and chemical reagents, holding back coronavirus testing in the country which may lead a possible public health crisis.
The same Members of Parliament had earlier voted to ring-fence its annual budget from the Treasury’s budget cuts amid cash strains in the Kenyan economy.
The MPs rejected the bid to allocate the money to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa), pointing out that the State agency was under investigation by the anti-graft agency for buying substandard reagents and personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.
Kenya has been struggling with unprocessed tests due to the effects of shortages caused by a worldwide race to acquire testing kits and slow allocation of money to tackle the pandemic and the latest move will only make it worse.
The Treasury had suggested parliament allow diversion of part of the Ksh3 billion allocation set aside for three national referral hospitals and select county referral hospitals for Covid-19 to Kemsa.
“We rejected the reallocation of Ksh3 billion because we had ring-fenced it to specific hospitals. This money was part of the budget of Parliament, which we were magnanimous to cede to help hospitals respond to the pandemic,” John Mbadi, the Leader of Minority in the National Assembly, said.
The Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) also shot down the Treasury’s attempt to move Ksh700 million from the funds dedicated to the hospitals to the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC), which is currently being used as an isolation center for Covid-19 patients.
Further, the MPs rejected the Treasury’s attempt to move Sh300 million from the allocation to hospitals for the purchase and supply of face masks to vulnerable groups.
Mbadi said money for testing kits and reagents should have been factored in the April mini-budget after the outbreak of Covid-19 in March.
Kenya is trailing countries like South Africa and smaller and poorer nations like Rwanda and Uganda. Kenya has carried out a total of 165,196 tests that have recorded 6,070 positive cases. South Africa, Africa’s biggest economy, has nearly 1.4 million tests and recorded more than 104,000 positive cases.