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Sputnik V deal: ‘Resign quietly and stop embarrassing us’

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It seems the Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu’s nightmare over the botched Sputnik V vaccines deal, will not be leaving him anytime soon as pressure mounts on him to resign.

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One of such persons who is not enthused about his continuous stay in office is a private legal practitioner, Mr. Martin Kpebu.

He is of the view that the Minister’s stay in office is an embarrassment to the nation.

On Friday, August 6, 2021, the ad-hoc committee that was tasked to probe the deal, submitted its findings to the house.

The Committee among other things reported 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. Kpebu, while speaking on Joy FM’s Newsfile on Saturday, August 7, 2021, asked the Health Minister to stop acting like “he is the best talent for that job.”

According to him, he should go quietly.

“He is embarrassing us as a nation. He should have been gone long ago. The report has made matters even worse for him. It seems he doesn’t understand public service. He is acting as if he is the best talent for that job, but we all know he is not. He must go quietly.”

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.

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