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MPs summon NHIF managers over theft of funds

Sunday February 23 2020

Insurance, HEALTHCARE, NHIF

The National Hospital Insurance Fund's headquarters in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SAMWEL OWINO
By SAMWEL OWINO
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The management of scandal-ridden National Hospital Insurance (NHIF) has been summoned by MPs to answer questions on an audit and misappropriation of public funds.

The National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee (PIC) chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir will meet the management on Thursday.

Mr Nassir told the Nation that the NHIF bosses will appear before them for the normal audit review but that the PIC will also ask questions on emerging issues at the fund that have been making headlines.

“It is our responsibility as PIC to check whether the organisation is managed well and public funds are also managed well,” Mr Nassir said.

“We will also definitely want to know if they are cutting operation costs and does it mean that some people will be going home? He asked.

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The insurer is expected to answer audit queries as raised in the auditor-general’s report for financial year 2017/2018

It will explain matters including how the fund contracted IT solutions firm Web Tribe Limited at a cost of Sh495 million in 2018 to provide an Integrated Management System.

Audit reports for the financial year indicate that although NHIF had not acquired the system as at June 30, 2018, the total cost of the system was included under additions to computers and related equipment thus resulting to an overstatement of the equipment by Sh495 million.

In his report, former Auditor-General Edward Ouko also questioned why NHIF went for direct procurement of Web Tribe.

The report indicates that no evidence was provided to the effect that the underlying circumstances met conditions set for direct procurement as laid down in Section 91.

Management was therefore in breach of the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act, 2015

The fund has dominated headlines in the recent past for mismanagement of billions of shillings.

For instance, it is reported that NHIF used Sh6 billion to print Afya Care cards for counties, an allegation that it has denied.

KAGWE VETTING

The sorry state of affairs at NHIF dominated the vetting of Health CS nominee Mutahi Kagwe on Thursday, with both MPs and the nominee calling for urgent restructuring at the fund.

Mr Kagwe told the committee that there is need for a comprehensive re-structuring of NHIF in order to serve Kenyans better.

He pointed out that the 2019 amendment to the Act was ill-advised to make social insurance part of a regulatory framework that goes to corporate

“Mr Speaker this should not be the case since it is a service that the fund is providing. All we urgently need to put in place is put a CEO in place and ensure that the existing range of products is designed to fully benefit all Kenyans,” the former Nyeri senator said.

Kagwe was responding to a question from the head of the vetting committee Speaker Justin Muturi who sought to know why there were over Sh6 billion on several bank accounts under the fund.

The speaker wondered why Kenyans should contribute money to the fund only to be kept in a bank yet it is meant to assist in provision of better healthcare to the people.

“Now we are reading that NHIF has over sh6 billion kept in a bank, this money is definitely earning interest and we don’t know who is taking it.We we start commercializing this money, it loses the social aspect for which it was desired for initially,” Mr Muturi said.