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Sputnik V deal was a mess, do the honourable thing and resign

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The Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide Newspaper, Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako Jnr. has advised the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu to peacefully resign from office for breaching procurement processes while trying to procure Sputnik V vaccines for Ghana through middlemen.

Agyeman-Manu, a chartered management accountant, has received widespread condemnation after he acknowledged that he failed to seek parliamentary approval prior to triggering processes for the botched Sputnik V vaccine deal.

The parliamentary committee tasked to probe the deal also submitted its report to Parliament on Friday, August 6, 2021, and recommended among other things that the Finance Ministry should retrieve the over $2 million paid the middlemen who were supposed to supply the vaccines to Ghana.

The Committee found that the Ministry of Health did not comply with the requirements of Article 181(5) of the Constitution in respect of its agreement with an intermediary, Messrs Al Maktoum.

The committee also determined that the agreements were entered into without prior approval by the Public Procurement Authority under Sections 40 and 41 of Act 663.

“The Agreements ensuing from the negotiations have been submitted to the PPA for ratification… Indeed, at the time of completing its work, PPA was yet to do the ratification.”

“The committee urges the Minister for Finance to take steps to recover the money due to the Republic in respect of the amount of US$2,850,000.00 (Cedi equivalent of GH¢16,331,640.00) being the cost of the Sputnik-V vaccines that were proposed to be procured,” the Committee recommended.

Mr. Kwaku Baako who was speaking on Joy News’ Newsfile programme on Saturday, August 7, 2021, described the entire deal as an “unmitigated disaster”.

The ace broadcaster said Agyeman-Manu, who is a former Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, must resign to avoid further embarrassment.

“It is an unmitigated disaster. [There was] No cabinet approval, no PPA approval, and no parliamentary approval. It is a mess. It was an unmitigated disaster. He must do the honourable thing and resign because he cannot defend it. If he was minded to resign, I will vote for him.”

Background

As Ghana struggled to reach its target of vaccinating 20 million citizens, it emerged that the government was using the services of middlemen to procure 3.4 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccines. 

But this was at a higher cost of $19 other than the original factory price of $10.

This prompted calls for the abrogation of the procurement contract.

The issue first came to light when a Norwegian news outlet, Verdens Gang, reported that Ghana had requested to purchase the doses of the Sputnik V vaccine through two businessmen who are selling it to Ghana at $19 per dose instead of the $10 per dose on the international market

The initial price quoted for the vaccine was US$25, but it was negotiated downwards to US$19, according to the Ghana Health Service.

The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, who is a board member of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, admitted that he did not seek cabinet and parliamentary approval before engaging the private individual for the procurement of Sputnik V vaccines when he appeared before the bi-partisan committee.

Meanwhile, the company that agreed to supply Ghana with the overpriced Sputnik V vaccines has terminated the contract it had with the country, according to the Minister.

The Minority in Parliament has also asked President Nana Akufo-Addo to dismiss Mr. Agyeman-Manu.

 

 

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