The Minority in Parliament has filed an urgent motion for a bipartisan probe to be instituted into the government’s procurement of Sputnik V vaccines for Ghana.
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu filed an oral application on the floor of Parliament on Friday, June 18, 2021.
He said: “We have filed an urgent motion into Ghana’s procurement of every Sputnik V vaccine”.
In the motion, he noted, “we are going to call for a bipartisan probe because we feel that Parliament is not even aware of this transaction”.
Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu recently wondered why Ghanaians would be ridiculing him in connection with attempts by the government to procure the vaccines to shore up Ghana’s immunisation programme against COVID-19.
An investigative report by a Norwegian news portal revealed that the Ghanaian government, through the Ministry of Health, has signed an agreement with a private businessman from Dubai to procure the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines at a higher price by sidestepping regular channels.
According to the investigation, the government was in the process of purchasing the vaccine at US$19 per dose contrary to the manufacturer’s recommended price of $10.
The Minority in Parliament recently called for the immediate abrogation of the contract.
The Minority spokesperson on Health, Mr Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, described the contract as unconstitutional and, thus, said the government must abrogate it immediately.
He also disclosed at a news conference on Friday, 11 June 2021 that the Minority caucus intended hauling Mr Agyeman-Manu before the committee to provide reasons for resorting to a middleman to procure the vaccine.
Some critics have also asked for the minister’s sacking or resignation over the matter.
Speaking at the launch of the Pest and Vector Control Association of Ghana in Accra, however, Mr Agyeman-Manu said he was only acting in the good interest of Ghanaians.
“I had an obligation to try to see how we can arrive at our herd immunity”, he said.
According to him, “when we started looking for vaccines to procure, intermediaries were not part of our agenda”.
“We were looking at what we will get from COVAX”, he said.
“We could not have waited between March and August because we were in the second wave and we were dying more than when we had the disease in 2020”, he noted.
In his view, “basic economics will tell you that in terms of scarcity, the market is the suppliers’ market”.
“He or she dictates the price, not the buyer”, adding: “I am surprised”.
“We all learned these things at O-level, so, why should I be a subject of ridicule?” he asked.
Just two days ago, President Nana Akufo-Addo indicated that the country is facing difficulties in getting access to COVID-19 vaccines for the national vaccination programme. According to him, the global politics on manufacturing, procurement and distribution is not helping the situation.
Speaking at an SDG forum at the Jubilee House, President Akufo-Addo said: “We have obvious difficulties as far as the vaccination programme is concerned”.
“Unfortunately, we are the victims of this worldwide shortage of vaccines that poor and less-advantaged nations are experiencing by not having access to the vaccines”.
“So, that, of course, is a major challenge for us, the procurement logistics and the issues involved in it.” A member of Ghana’s COVID-19 response team,Dr Bernard Okoe Boye,also noted that the government is considering other options to get vaccines for the country.
“What is happening to Ghana is a global issue. So, what we are doing is that this government is engaging directly with other European countries who have stock of AstraZeneca and are not deploying them that much. So, we will continue to explore,” he said.
He continued: “It will be difficult to speak and state the specific date because with this Africa platform that we are using and the direct Russia government engagement people are talking about, they tell us that it will take six or 12 months before the vaccines will come and remember in a year, a lot can happen.”