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Editorial News of Monday, 16 August 2021

Source: happyghana.com

Editorial: Sputnik V Scandal: Ken Ofori-Atta must be investigated

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta

Andy Kankam, Editor of the Informer Newspaper has insisted the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) launches a second inquiry into the Sputnik V procurement breaches.

To him, although the Minister of Health has answered some questions, these are unsatisfactory as the Finance Ministry also played a role in the deal.

Andy Kankam stated, “I am suggesting we launch a 2nd investigation into the Sputnik V procurement breaches. How can a minister who is in charge of a Ministry spearheading the procurement of a vaccine appear before a committee and say he is not aware of any monies being made as part payment to the middle man?

He said this only for letters from the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to prove the Finance Ministry had made some payments, and for PAC to make recommendations for the recovery of the said amount.”

Reacting per the Minister of Health, Dr. Kwaku Agyeman Manu’s testimony at PAC, Andy Kankam believes the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta should not be let off the hook. “The Finance Minister must not be left to go scot-free and that is why I am calling for a second investigation into this scandal. How come the Finance Minister made payments to the Sheikh without informing the Health Minister,” he asked.

Reacting to Andy’s position on the Happy Morning Show hosted by Samuel Eshun, Awudu Mahama of the Custodian argues the Finance Minister should not be dragged into a mess created by the Health Minister. “This is not something we should condone. We don’t need to drag the Finance Minister into this.

The payment process couldn’t have been done without the Health Minister. Dr. Kwaku Agyemang Manu signed documents for payments to be made and there are documents proving that.”

He indicated that it was per the Minister of Health’s instructions that 50 percent payment was made to Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum. “We shouldn’t rush to burden the Finance Minister.”

According to him, the testimony of the Health Minister before PAC is equal to perjury and needs to be held accountable.

Background

The Parliamentary Committee probing the controversial Sputnik V vaccines procurement contract has recommended that the Finance Ministry retrieves GH¢16,331,640 paid to Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum.

This amount is said to have been paid by the government in the Health Ministry’s bid to procure the Russian vaccines through a middleman.

“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.

These are the conclusions of a 28-page report on the findings of the Ad-hoc Committee investigating the contract between the government and Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum for the supply of Covid -19 vaccines.

The nine-member committee also looked into the circumstances under which the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, entered into a deal with the Sheikh and S.L Global without seeking Parliamentary approval.

After the siting, the Ministry of Health disclosed Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum had agreed to refund $2,470,000 paid by the government to supply 300,000 doses of Sputnik Covid-19 vaccines.

This was contained in a letter signed by Chief Director, Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, to the Finance Ministry dated August 9.

The letter was in reference to an earlier one dated August 5, 2021, from Sheikh Al Maktoum to the Ministry of Health.

“The Private Officer of His Highness, per the correspondence, has honourably agreed to refund an amount of $2,470,000 being the balance left on the 50% advance payment of $2,850,000,” portions of the Health Ministry’s letter to the Finance Ministry read.

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