Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, the Dubai-based businessman the Ministry of Health contacted for the procurement of 300,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, has refunded $2,470,000 to Ghana, according to documents sighted by Citi News.
In a letter from Sheikh Al Maktoum, he said no funds had been drawn under the Letter of Credit.
He also said the Letter of Credit stands expired, as of June 2021.
Sheikh Al Maktoum is expecting a payment receipt once the funds have been credited into the government bank account.
Ghana had already taken delivery of 20,000 out of 300,000 doses of the vaccine expected.
Sheikh Al Maktoum had been paid $2,850,000 for his services out of an expected $5,700,000.
The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has been under fire because of this transaction.
The controversy began when a Norwegian newspaper, VG, reported that the government was using the services of middlemen to procure 3.4 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccines.
But this was at a higher cost of $19 other than the original factory price of $10.
This prompted calls for the abrogation of the procurement contract.
The Minister had earlier claimed that the state had not made any payments for the vaccine.
The Health Committee in Parliament had also said the government was not being ripped off in the deal with its chairman, Dr. Nana Ayew Afriyie saying that the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the procurement of the Sputnik-V vaccines require the use of middlemen whose activities will lead to an increase in the original price.
Dr. Afriyie also said no consignment has been received.
But a parliamentary committee set up to probe the deal indicated that the $2,850,000 representing 50 percent of the $5,700,000 owed to Sheikh Maktoum for the supply of 300,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine was actually paid to him, although only 20,000 doses were delivered.
The contract, according to Ghana’s Health Minister, was abrogated by Sheikh Ahmed after failure to meet his obligation.
Findings of the committee
The parliamentary committee set up to probe the deal released damning findings, including the fact that the Health Ministry did not receive Cabinet approval for the deal.
The health Ministry also breached the constitution by not seeking parliamentary approval for the agreement.
In addition, the Public Procurement Authority did not seek approval from its Board before signing the Agreements.
The Minister for Finance had been tasked to take steps to recover the moneyalready paid to Sheikh Al Maktoum.
The committee, however, did not outline explicit sanctions for the Health Minister.
These findings were contained in a 29-page report.
Calls for accountability
In the aftermath of the revelations, there have been calls for Mr. Agyeman-Manu to resign as Health Minister.
The consensus from Civil Society Organisations and observers has been that the minister has no excuse and justification for the procurement infractions.
The main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress, is also adamant that the Minister resigns. They even want the Finance Minister to shoulder some of the blame.
The hashtag #AgyemanManuMustGo trended on social media, with Ghanaians demanding the Minister leaves his portfolio because of his role in the deal.
They rubbished the Minister’s defence when he appeared before the parliamentary committee probing the deal on July 19, where he notably said he was desperate and confused when he oversaw the deal for the vaccines.
This came as Ghana contended with its inability to secure vaccines to meet its target to vaccinate 20 million people.
Support for the Minister
Mr. Agyeman-Manu has received some backing from members of the government and legislators.
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, for example, said Ghanaians were being unsympathetic.
He said this because he felt, Mr. Agyeman-Manu, was doing his best to secure vaccines for the country.
The Deputy Majority Leader and the chairman of the committee that probed the botched deal, Alexander Afenyo-Markin, further said it would not be necessary to take punitive action against the Health Minister.
Though the Attorney General is on record to have advised against the deal, Mr. Afenyo-Markin felt the urgency of the situation did not permit the Minister to use the right channels.
In President Akufo-Addo’s only public comments on the Health Minister in the wake of the controversy, he laughed, saying Mr. Agyeman-Manu had endured a lot at his ministry.
Mr. Agyeman-Manu is currently on a two-week leave to enable him to attend to some personal issues.