By Maxwell Nkansah
The Parliamentary committee that investigated the Sputnik V vaccine contract has recommended in its final report that the Ministry of Finance should take steps to recover the money due 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 says it found that the Ministry of Health did not seek approval from the Board of Public Procurement Authority under Sections 40 and 41 of Act 663 before signing the Agreements.
The Ministry however, applied for ratification under Section 90(3) (c) of the Act. This has still not been granted. The Committee also found that PPA has not concluded its investigations into the matter.
The Committee found that the Ministry dealt with the Private Office of His Highness Al Maktoum and S. L. Global. The two entities were appointed by the Aurugulf health Investment (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates), to be both Agents and Distributors of the Sputnik-V COVID-19 Vaccines in Ghana. Clearly using middlemen for the purchase and distribution of the vaccine
The Committee found that the amount of US$19.00 was the agreed price of the vaccine under the Ministry’s Agreement with Al Maktoum and US$18.50 under the Agreement with S. L. Global which was originally $26 per dose. The Committee found that the ex-factory price of the Sputnik-V Vaccine was US$10.00.
The Minister explained that the prices achieved under the two Agreements included the cost of documentation, shipping, packaging, logistics and expenses in relation to transportation of the vaccine from its place of origin to Ghana.
The Committee found that the Ministry entered into the two Agreements without cabinet approval but only based on a Ministerial decision, having regard to the advice of the COVID-19 Emergency Operating Committee.
The Committee found that the amount of US$2,850,000.00 (representing 50% of the contract sum of US$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 GH¢5.73 whereas the minister said he had no knowledge of payment under oath.
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. The Agreement would have been taken under certificate of urgency in accordance with the
The point must also be made that, even if it was an emergency, the Minister should have found time to communicate effectively and engage with the Committee on Healh
The extensive engagement would have saved the Ministry from the negative reactions from the citizenry and some Members of Parliament.
The Committee therefore recommends that, in future, any such transaction, whether local or international, be subjected to broader stakeholder consultations and should be taken through due process of law including Parliamentary approval. Other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) should take a cue from the recommendation, not only in the case of Agreements but also on issues relating to policies and programmes to be implemented.