Sputnik V probe: Retrieve ¢16m paid for vaccines – Committee to Finance Minister

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

This amount is said to have been paid by 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 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.

“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.”

After weeks of sitting, the Committee, chaired by Alexander Afenyo-Markin, found that indeed, “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 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,” parts of the document read.

Additionally, the Committee has presented the agreements entered into by the Ministry to the Public Procurement Authority for ratification.

The report is due to be laid in Parliament for approval later today.

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