Dismantling graft cartels at Afya House and making the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) mandatory for all will be the key priorities for Health Cabinet Secretary nominee Mutahi Kagwe, if he is cleared.
During this vetting by the National Assembly Committee on Appointments chaired by Speaker Justin Muturi on Thursday, Mr Kagwe emphasised the need to increase the NHIF’s capital base to expand health services.
To achieve this, the government should increase NHIF funding rather than spend millions of shillings on private insurance for public servants, he said.
The former Nyeri senator said countries that provide universal healthcare for their citizens, such as Thailand and Canada, made contribution to the scheme mandatory.
“We have to move from the voluntary contribution to mandatory contribution. I will be seeking the approval of this House to bring as many people as possible on board,” Mr Kagwe said.
On the Covid-19 coronavirus, Mr Kagwe termed the epidemic as “an issue that should be taken seriously”.
He admitted that there was endemic corruption in the Ministry of Health but vowed to eliminate graft cartels.
“Some will not like what I will do but I am not going there to please people,” Mr Kagwe said.
He said the national government should manage Level Five hospitals “because the cost of running them is a burden to counties”.
Trade and Industrialisation Cabinet nominee Betty Chemutai Maina faced tough questions on how she intends to pay the Sh55 billion owed to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The lawmakers said pending bills affect small businesses, hinder effective cash flow and dampen economic growth.
“Traders have not had it easy for the last two years and most had their houses and properties auctioned. What are you going to do about it?” posed Murang’a woman representative Sabina Chege.
Ms Maina said most of the pending bills cannot be verified because they lack supporting documents.
“But we should not be a country that owes money to businesses. We should pay promptly,” Ms Maina was, however, quick to add.
The ministry is currently revising the SME policy on the best way to nurture entrepreneurs, she said.
The committee will retreat this weekend to compile its report.