‘Sputnik-V procurement contract not convincing; it must be re-examined’ – Kwaku Baako

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Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide Newspaper, Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako Jnr., wants the government to re-examine its agreement to purchase Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines from S. L Global Limited as suppliers.

He says the government’s attempts to procure the vaccines by resorting to middlemen on face value lacks transparency, and that further details and clarity are required before any deal is sealed.

Aside from his concerns about the government’s failure to make public documents detailing the terms of the contract, Mr. Baako while speaking on Joy FM’s News File on Saturday, said, his sources at the Ministry of Health have reliably informed him that the deal ought to undergo parliamentary approval, but that has not even been done.

The veteran journalist was worried about the way the government is handling the procurement processes, saying they smack of suspicion, and thus called on the government to come clean on it.

“There is a lack of clarity and this means that there isn’t much transparency and for that matter, it will be difficult to put a lot of things together to test for accountability. I have studied some documents and as of now, I am not convinced that the approach we have taken is the right one.”

‘There is too much confusion, lack of clarity, there is controversy, so it calls for us to re-examine what we are doing carefully. I am not convinced at all at this stage, and I am being frank. I am not clear in my mind and there is a need for more information to be provided. To be very honest, this thing looks untidy at this stage”, he emphasized.

Responding to calls for the abrogation of the contract, Mr. Baako said that may not be in the interest of the country given that the majority of Ghanaians have not been able to get vaccinated months after the first inoculation exercise.

On the same programme, Senior Vice-President of IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil, said the government has not been responsible enough in its quest to procure Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccines to augment Ghana’s COVID-19 inoculation exercise.

The failure to make use of the government-to-government approach and settle on middlemen to obtain the vaccines from the black market, Mr. Bentil believes, is a heedless move to toy with the lives of citizens in the wake of the global pandemic.

“If we are going to buy the vaccines, we must buy from the manufacturers and vaccinate our people. Which responsible government will go to the black market and deal will shady and underground characters with zero track record and present things that cannot work. This looks bad, it should not happen because people can die. If people start dying or start getting side effects and reactions, who do you attack?”, he quizzed.

The government has explained that it could not secure the vaccines directly from the manufacturer, hence the need to go through some middlemen, justifying why the cost is higher than the standard price of the Russian vaccine.

The Health Ministry has also justified why the government must procure the vaccines using this means, even at an overpriced value, saying it was compelled to rely on the market for the vaccines after it failed to procure supplies directly from the Russian government.

The Health Committee in Parliament assures that the government is not being ripped off in the deal.

But despite these explanations, the Minority in parliament demands the immediate termination of any contract between Ghana and any entity for the procurement of Sputnik V vaccines.

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