Member of Parliament for Builsa South, Dr. Clement Apaak, has alleged that the Minority side in parliament was left in the dark concerning the acquisition of the overpriced Sputnik V vaccines from Russia.
He said it is because the minority was left out of the due process in acquiring the Sputnik V vaccines that they have come out to raise concerns of a bipartisan probe into the matter. The minority says they had disagreement with what was been done, the manner it was been done to acquire the vaccines and were equally surprised as Ghanaians when the news broke out.
Dr. Apaak was speaking on the back of news broached by the Norwegian flagship newspaper Verdens Gang(VG) that Ghana has purchased overpriced Sputnik V vaccines at $19 per dose instead of $10 sold on the international market through middlemen.
In an interview with Berla Mundi on the New Day show on TV3, Thursday, June 10, the Builsa South lawmaker said “the due diligence component had to do with the entity that we are procuring these vaccines from. The relationship between that middle entity and the source and whether or not we can be assured that the product that is going to come from this middle entity is wholesome, meets the standards and indeed that entity has the legal backing to be able to engage in this practice”.
“In fact, our side in parliament has not come out to confirm participation in this discussion, if you have heard our side of it, in fact we have raised concerns. And we are asking for a bipartisan probe into this matter, that is what our side has said. So the Chair of the committee actually came out in response to what our Ranking Member had said because we had disagreements with what was been done, the way it was been done and from the commentary that was given by our Ranking Member Hon. Akandoh, in fact, this came as a surprise to us, we also heard it just like the rest of you did through the media”, he pointed out.
Dr. Apaak added that “we have been left in the dark and you see that is also the aspect that raises a lot of eyebrows. If there is unanimity, there is acceptability that this is a situation that is dire, why wouldn’t we be made part of the discussions. How come our side was left in the dark until the story broke? If we were made part of that conversation, perhaps the current state of the public debate won’t be so. But you see, the other component of the debate is also the personalities involved in the arrangement. I think you alluded to that earlier that this Sheik and his dealings have been sources of concern, not just within the context of this particular vaccine. But if you are somebody who has followed the public discourse you would know this is not the first time his name is coming up in something rather controversial.
“And I studied in Norway at the university of Bergen and for Norwegians to be trying to look for somebody having engaged in acts deemed to be criminal, then it is no small matter because the Norwegian system is one of the most liberal systems in the world . And so for the Norwegian authorities to single him out as somebody to pursue because he has engaged in ‘unwholesome conduct’ before, in itself should give us a worry. The concerns we are raising is not just about the price itself but it is the whole gamut of what transpired and the circumstances under which this Sheik was identified in the supply”.
“But you see something that caught my attention that it was the Sheik who made the offer, he apparently made us as a nation aware that he had the capacity to undertake this, doesn’t that also come to you as a bit weird, some personal interest at play? Well on what basis did he make the offer to support us? Is it that we advertised our need for vaccines? Did we communicate to other entities or to the world that we were having challenges? And if that is so, which are the entities that we communicated that to? How did we publicize it? How did he become aware or was it an inside job because he had associates in the government? That is the question I am raising” Dr. Apaak charged.
The Ministry of Health has assured Ghanaians that it will endeavour to secure vaccines based on national need and according to procurement processes.
in a statement dated Wednesday, June 9, the Ministry of Health said the several efforts to get the vaccines from the Russian government and some individuals came to naught and it had to rather respond to an offer from the private office of one Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the supply of 3.4 million doses at a unit cost of $19.
“It should be noted that the US$10 price per dose, which is being proposed as the correct price, is the ex-factory price, which is only obtained from Government to Government arrangements,” the statement signed by the Chief Director of the Ministry, Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, said.
“The Government of Ghana was unable to obtain direct supplies from the Russian Government as stated earlier, hence the resort to the market.”
It explained that the initial price of $25 had to be negotiated downwards to $19 through efforts of the government.
“This is the result of the cost build-up to the ex-factory price of US$10 per dose, taking into account land transportation, shipment, insurance, handling and special storage charges, as explained by the seller.
“These are the factors which led us to agree the final price of US$19 per dose,” the Ministry stressed.
The Ministry explained that when the engagements with the Russian authorities such as the Russian Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the CEOs of the RDIF and Limited Liability Company ‘Human Vaccine’ and even the Deputy Ambassador of Russia in Ghana yielded no results, the offer from Sheikh Dalmook Al Maktoum was responded to on Tuesday, March 9, a few days to exactly a year when the coronavirus disease struck the country.
“It should be noted that at the time of negotiations, as is the case now, there was scarcity or non-availability of the vaccines on the market.”