Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament for North Tongu, has disclosed that the contract between government and Frontiers Healthcare Solution Services Limited in testing passengers at the Kotoka International Airport reeks of “profiteering” mindset.
Following the hesitance of Minsters- designate to answer questions pertaining to government’s implication in the deal, Mr. Ablakwa who is also a prominent feature and member of Parliament’s Appointments Committee insisted that the apparent difficulty in settling the controversies around the procurement processes is primarily because the government did not have a humanitarian mindset before granting the contract during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“So the whole framework and model is wrong. It is a mindset of profiteering”.
The North Tongu legislator further markedly questioned why the state faltered in ensuring free antigen testing at the airport by subsidizing completely the amount involved just as it is being done in other countries.
“There is a fundamental issue about the mindset of government during the pandemic. During a pandemic, one’s mindset must be humanitarian and not commercial. But there is a profiteering mindset that for private commercial interest during the pandemic and that is fundamentally wrong. We must have a humanitarian mindset at this time”.
Health Minister-Designate, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, making an appearance before the Appointments Committee, indicated that the contract for the testing was given out under emergency procurement.
According to him, “we were not in normal times; we had to do things quickly and rectify them later”.
“The licensing was even done on my insistence. When I went to do the checks and I found out that it hadn’t been done, and I told them to quickly let us go and rectify the anomaly before things get worse.”
The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection designate, Sarah Adwoa Sarfo, taking her turn on Wednesday, February17,2021, before the Committee said she was oblivious to the procurement processes adopted prior to contracting the firm.
According to her, she wasn’t privy to the contract for the deal in spite of the fact that she was the chief advisor to the President on procurement matters.
The former Minister of State for Procurement, however, suggested the Finance Minister under Akufo-Addo’s first term, Ken Ofori-Atta may have answers.
“I want to state on record that the Public Procurement Act of 2003 was not changed during my tenure as Minister of State for Public Procurement. So, the supervisory minister which is clearly stated in the law is the Minister for Finance”.
Meanwhile, the minister-nominees for Justice and Foreign Affairs, Godfred Dame and Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey have also said they had no knowledge of the procurement processes.
In September 2020, government engaged Frontiers Healthcare Solution Services Limited to conduct rapid COVID-19 tests following the reopening of the airport to international passenger flights.
Ghana’s procurement law provides that emergency procurement and donations shall be undertaken in a natural disaster, epidemics and others subject to the Public Procurement Board’s approval in accordance with Act 663, Section 40.
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