PS to blame for overpriced equipment, says Waiguru

By: SAMUEL KARANJA

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Ann Waiguru on Wednesday declared she was not accountable for inflated expenses in any department falling under her ministry.

A tough talking Ms Waiguru said the only person who should answer questions over wanton overpricing of office equipment in her ministry was the accounting officer.

“The accounting officer should explain why they bought what they bought and at whatever prices,” she said.

“We (Cabinet Secretaries) do not get involved, in fact if I were to get involved in procurement at all, it would be irregular. We don’t get involved in price lists,” she added.

ROLE OF MINISTER

She was speaking to journalists at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre after launching a plan to end drought emergencies in the country.

Ms Waiguru said the Constitution was very clear on the roles of the minister and she could not be held accountable for inflated prices.

She said the buck stopped with the accounting officer, Principal Secretary Peter Mangiti.

The overpricing of goods at the Devolution ministry was unearthed by members of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee.

OVERPRICED ITEMS

Included was an electronic screen in Ms Waiguru’s office costing Sh1.798 million and computers, a printer, telephone headsets and a water dispenser at a combined cost of Sh1.4 million.

Among the curious assets the ministry procured in June 2014 were items described as “male penile vibration” and “female venial vibration”. The male one cost Sh2,400 and the female one Sh3,800.

There has been no explanation what exactly these are but they appear on the list submitted by PS Mangiti.

This has caused outrage on social media.

In June 2014, the Huduma Kenya secretariat paid Sh174,000 for 20 blue, fine-tipped ball point pens, meaning each cost Sh8,700.

A photocopier was bought for Sh1.4 million; 45 external hard disks for Sh11,102 each; a laptop for Sh206,000; 18 tailor-made clear male and female condom dispensers for Sh25,000 each; CorelDraw software for Sh3.4 million; a computer and personal laptop for Sh1.1 million and carpets for Sh3.8 million.

DEFIANCE

The CS said she was ready to appear before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee but would only answer questions relevant to her role.

“I will go to Parliament but they can only ask me questions relating to my role. I cannot present accounts of the ministry because I am not the accounting officer,” added the CS.

Asked if she was ready to take responsibility and step aside, she said: “The minister will step aside if directly linked to the misappropriation, but you cannot impute an offence by somebody else.”

She added that if the committee determines that there are issues with the way the procurement was done, then she would invite the relevant investigation authorities.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION