Minister responsible for Ghana’s Health Kwaku Agyeman-Manu has written to Sheikh Al Maktoum, the middleman from whom he had intended procuring some 300,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccines, to refund the money paid him by the government of Ghana in the botched deal.
The deal was cancelled after Sheikh Al Maktoum supplied 20,000 doses of the vaccine.
It followed reports by the Norwegian press that Ghana had agreed to pay $19 per dose instead of $10.
A recent ad hoc parliamentary committee probe revealed that Ghana paid $2.8 million to the Sheikh for the supply of the vaccines despite the minister having told the committee that the country parted with no money in the deal.
In a letter demanding the refund, Mr Agyeman-Manu said: “By this letter, I also wish to formally request … the refund of the remaining amount for the non-supplied doses, which should be the total amount paid to your office, minus the amount due for the 20,000 doses you already supplied, in line with your earlier e-mail dated 25 July 2021, in which it was affirmed that on the 13 April 2021, funds were transferred into your accounts as 50% advance for the initial batch of 300,000 doses.
The letter came as the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) gave the Attorney General a 48-hour ultimatum to initiate criminal investigations and prosecution against Mr Agyeman-Manu and all other persons involved in the procurement process.
Portions of the ad hoc committee’s report said it discharged its mandate by “diligently” examining the two agreements as well as “written and oral evidence on the subject within the parameters of the seven terms of reference and the timelines given by the house”.
The Committee said it 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 Messrs Al Maktoum.
“The minister said that he did that because of the exigencies of the time when COVID-19 posed public health crisis with highest fatalities and there was urgent global search for vaccines and at that material time the agreements were signed, all government-to-government sources had failed as the bilateral sources had communicated to the Ministry that they would only be able to deliver in August 2021”, portions of the report said.
It added: “Suffice to say that the bilateral sources did not include Russia since Ghana had no such arrangement with Russia”.
“The agreements ensuing from the negotiations have been submitted to the PPA for ratification, the Committee determined that the agreements were entered into without prior approval by the PPA under Sections 40 and 41 of Act 663. Indeed, at the time of completing its work, PPA was yet to do the ratification”.
A statement signed by the Executive Director of ASEPA, Mensah Thompson on 9 August 2021 indicated that, “Even though we commend the committee for the work done, we believe the work of the Committee and its resultant report wasn’t particularly thorough.
“The adverse findings made by the Committee are already issues civil society, experts and well-meaning Ghanaian have already raised in the public domain”.
“Our limitation was that, we lacked the powers to recommend appropriate sanctions against the Minister in respect of the glaring violations of our laws and that’s why a committee was set up to investigate the matter and make appropriate recommendations.
“Retrieval of monies paid to Sheikh for the failed procurement is un-compromising formality and that cannot be the end to this matter,” it added.
ASEPA, therefore, stated that “In respect of the violations of our laws there are clear sanctions that must be activated in accordance with law, in respect of this we are giving the Attorney General a 48-hour ultimatum, to initiate Criminal Investigations and Prosecution against the Minister for Health and all other persons involved in this shady procurement or ASEPA will take the matter up and file an official complaint with the CID”, adding that: “A petition has been already prepared together with all relevant documents including the report of the ad-hoc committee of Parliament awaiting to be filed within the next 48 hours at the CID if the Attorney General fails to initiate the relevant legal processes against the health minister”.