Senators Oppose Move to Quash Hospital Grants

Source:The star

SENATORS have condemned the National Assembly move to quash Sh3.7 billion conditional grant to level five hospitals and promised to revisit the matter.

Senators Johnstone Muthama (Machakos) and Mutahi Kagwe (Nyeri) said quashing the fund and putting it under the equitable share is not only unfair but unconstitutional.

Machakos and Nyeri counties have level five hospitals.

Kagwe said Nyeri county cannot be forced to spend a huge part of its equitable share on the hospital which also serves Murang’a, Laikipia, Kirinyaga and Nyandarua counties.

“It’s a gross miscalculation on the part of National Assembly. I believe the move was informed by jealousy and misunderstanding of facts. There is no way one can explain it,” Kagwe said.

He said the move will “effectively kill level five hospitals as most of them have competing needs. Muthama claimed that the Jubilee government wants “to take away with one hand what they give out with the other.”

“Its totally unacceptable and as a Senate, it is out responsibility to right the wrongs and give Kenyans what they deserve, not what Jubilee feels they deserve,” Muthama said.

He said if indeed the quashing of the grant was justifiable, those who did it ought to have explained to Kenyans: “That should tell you that they are doing funny things and playing Kenyans. How do you explain the fact that even some Mps do not appear to be aware of the matter?”

National Assembly budget committee member John Mbadi however defended the move. He said majority leader Aden Duale who moved the controversial amendment had already explained the rationale behind it to the budget committee.

“The impression given to us is that there was a meeting between the two majority leaders (Senate and national assembly), our chair (Mutava Musyimi), his Senate colleague Billow Kerrow, members of executive and representative of county governments which agreed to move the grant into the equitable share allocation.

We thought it was ok since they had agreed on it. Having said that, I appreciate their concerns. My position is and has always been that there is no way you can leave the funding of level five hospital to their resident counties. It’s a mistake,” Mbadi told the Star.

He said it would smack of hypocrisy for Mps complaining to say they were not consulted: “Duale came to the committee and explained it. We accepted… we knew. To turn around now and try to run away would be hypocritical of us.”

Yesterday, National Assembly health committee chair Raychel Nyamai was shocked to learn about the matter: “This matter comes as a surprise. No one was consulted,” she said.

Mbadi says the way forward is not for Senate to amend the division of revenue bill. He said the best way is for the government to sit down and see how counties neighbouring level five hospitals can share out the costs of running the hospitals.

“They should not amend the Bill as it was all negotiated, unless you want to tell me we are negotiating afresh. The level of investment in these hospitals and no county can foot them alone. The idea is to encourage them to pool resources,” he said.

Duale’s amendment quashed the grant but increased the county equitable share allocation from Sh217 billion to Sh226 billion.

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