By Salad Malicha
Our attention has been drawn to “The Star” and “The Standard” Newspapers reports in which the County Government of Isiolo misleadingly claims that the National Treasury has approved its agreement with a private entity, Living Goods Limited, for the provision of healthcare services. Strangely, these local dailies ran distorted headline on 30th April, “Governor Kuti wins as Senate, Treasury approved health partnership deal” which was edited by one F’Orieny of the “The Star” Newspaper.
The other one published by the “The Standard” had this headline, “Treasury gives county deal with NGO clean bill of health” which was authored by Allan Mungai.
We expected these reporters to do proper due diligence on the entire letter before unleashing half baked, distorted and half-truths information for public consumption.
Strange as it may be, these local dailies erroneously reported that Senator Dullo and Governor Kuti had been embroiled in a battle over the partnership and that National Treasury CS Henry Rotich said issues raised about the partnership and the Public Finance Management Regulations had been resolved amicably. This tantamount to outright irresponsible journalism in this modern day communication edge.
From the onset the matter was narrowed down by county myopic leeches and mandarins to a personal fight between Senator Dullo and Governor Kuti and blown out of proportion by cheap low key and amateurish blogger which knowingly or unknowingly was spined by a reporter from newspaper of the mainstream newspaper of their calibre. This by all standards negates the very cardinal ethics and etiquettes of responsible journalism.
The Isiolo County Government did a shallow analysis of the National Treasury letter and that is partly due to the fact that the attached documents that were deliberately hidden from the Public. The Treasury’s observations has raised serious breaches of the law which were the main reason Senator Dullo had been pressing the County to rectify before proceeding with the Agreement.
In my opinion however, this should have been viewed as a matter of Kuti’s pet project versus issues of public interest which borders on oversight/prudent use of public funds which was ably executed by Senator Dullo pursuant to the provision of Article 96 (1) of the Constitution of Kenya.
Senator Dullo managed to access the agreement between Kuti’s administration and Living Goods and poked holes on the same. After writing to the Isiolo county government, the Government defied to follow due process of the law, the Senator sought the intervention of the House of Senate and the National Treasury. The perceived hubris and short lived occasioned by the Treasury was the smoking gun triggered by Senator Dullo hence necessitating compliance and panel beating done to the miserably erroneous agreement, and with further observations and directives for certain specific changes in line with all applicable financial laws.
I believe the end result is a public interest or any other better version of it. So it’s like pulling in the same direction but using different lanes.
In the wake of public outcry during hurriedly signing of partnership between Isiolo County government and Living Goods Limited, merchants of hire in the name of Isiolo residents were stage managed and bankrolled by their piper….read county government to file fake petition against the county government which is incurable in nature, defective and dead on arrival. The petition was purely driven by malice and mischief.
The crafty petitioners were Kanyika Jackline, Adan Ibrahim and Kennedy Mutuma. Interestingly, when the Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury Henry Rotich released more tougher guidelines to the county administration. Coincidentally, a communique was sent by the court that the petitioners have withdrawn alleging that the county had now met the requirements and complied with the regulations and demands as required by law.
Strange as it may be, report on the petition was tabled on 27th February, 2019 by the Standing Committee on Health halted the proposed agreement for THREE months and the report was dispatched to the Ministry of Health, Ministry of National Treasury and Isiolo county government after which report will be seized of by the House of Senate. Therefore, anyone suggesting that the Senate has approved the agreement is beyond figment of imagination.
Contrary to the claims reported in your Newspaper, the National Treasury has not approved the Agreement. As a matter of fact, in its letter to the Governor dated 16 April 2019, the National Treasury has noted serious legal flaws in the Agreement, most of which the distinguished Isiolo Senator Hon. Fatuma Dullo have raised on previous occasions.
Donna Brazile– American political strategist , Democrat campaign manager, political analyst , author, Fox News contributor and former interim chairperson for the Democratic National Committee averred that- “I think people involved in politics make good actors. Acting and politics both involve fooling people. People like being fooled by actors. When you get right down to it, they probably like being fooled by politicians even more. A skillful actor will make you think, but a skillful politician will make you never have to think.”. This scenario aptly describe the predicament of Isiolo County government.
Specifically, the National Treasury has noted the following concerning the Agreement:
• The Agreement awarded joint ownership of a public project to Living Goods Limited, a private entity, contrary to the law governing public assets. Such projects should be 100% owned by the county government even if performed jointly with third parties.
• The Special Purpose Fund and Account provided for in the Agreement violates laws on public finance which requires such funds and accounts to be established only upon approval by the National Treasury.
• That the County should ensure that the monies allocated to the agreement doesn’t exceed 8% of funds allocated to the County Health budget.
• That the administrative expenses of Public Funds should be capped at 3% and not 5% as stated in the agreement. This is in line with Public Finance Management Act (County Governments)
• Treasury faulted the provision in the agreement which gave Living Goods project oversight powers alongside the county. Treasury insists that since this is a count government project, the Project Oversight Committee should only directly report to the county government(Governor), and not to Living Goods. The committee should also be chaired by the by the CECM Health and deputised by the CECM Finance.
• Treasury also faulted the provision in the agreement which empowers Living Goods to charge project management or oversight fees. Such fees, if any, can only be charged by the county government which is legally empowered to impose taxes and charges.
• Treasury indicated that assets acquired for and during the project must be registered as county property, controlled by the county and be retained by the county after the project.
In a nutshell, National Treasury has directed that before the Agreement can be implemented, it must comply with all relevant legal law, particularly the Public Finance Management Act and regulations thereunder. To ensure such compliance, National Treasury has directed that the Agreement be
submitted to the Office of the Attorney General for his legal opinion on its compliance with the relevant law. Only upon the Attorney-General’s positive opinion on the Agreement can the county government proceed with the project.
Therefore, the media reports instigated by the County Government of Isiolo are not only misleading and inaccurate, but they are also a mockery of the constitutional guarantee of transparency and accountability and the freedom of information. The public, particularly the people of Isiolo County, are entitled to accurate information about how their public money is utilised by their representatives.
It is therefore imperative that “The Star” and “The Standard” newspapers correct this misleading narrative and assists the people of Isiolo County in vigilantly monitoring the use of public funds by accurately reporting on the issue.
By Ilana Webster-Kogen Anyone who steps into the public sphere in Ethiopia is also a …