Parliamentary committee asks Finance Minister to retrieve ¢16m paid for Sputnik vaccines

The ad hoc committee set up by parliament to probe the controversial Sputnik V vaccines procurement contract has asked the minister for finance Ken Ofori-Atta to go after Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum to retrieve GH¢16,331,640 paid him for the supply of Covid -19 vaccines.

Parliamentary committee asks Finance Minister to retrieve ¢16m paid for Sputnik vaccines

The deal was entered into with the vaccine intermediary by Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu to help Ghana procure 3.4 million doses of the Sputnik vaccine without parliamentary or cabinet approval.

When the minister appeared before the committee chaired by Deputy Majority leader and MP for Afutu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, he admitted to breaching all the relevant procurement laws but added that he acted desperately in a bid to save the country from the covid-19 pandemic.

“I was in a desperate and helpless situation with the management of the Covid numbers. In February [this year], we had 78 deaths; by March, we had 56 deaths, and these were the numbers that pushed me to act,” he told the committee on July 19, 2021.

“Those were not normal times and I was seriously in a situation that didn’t make me think properly, the way you think that now I will actually abreast myself with the situation.”

He also said he was unaware of any payment to the Sheik in respect of the said deal although he had supplied an initial 15,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines, on Wednesday, March 3.

The committee has however discovered that a total of GH¢16,331,640 has been paid to Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum.

“The Committee found that the amount of $2,850,000.00 (representing 50% of the contract sum of $5,700,000.00) has been paid to Messrs Al Maktoum and this translates into the cedi equivalent of GH¢16,331,640.00 converted at the then prevailing exchange rate of US$1 to ¢5.73 whereas the Minister said he had no knowledge of payment under oath,” the report revealed.

It added: “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 committee further rubbished the health minister’s claim that he had no option but to unilaterally enter into the vaccine purchase deal in breach of all the procurement laws due to the emergency covid-19 situation.

“The Committee is of the opinion that even if the situation in the country at the time the Agreement was signed was that of an emergency, due process of law should have been followed because Parliament would have treated the issue with the urgency it deserved and the appropriate action would have been taken accordingly.”

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