Minority demands probe into COVID-19 testing contract

The Minority in Parliament has said it would move a motion to request a parliamentary inquiry into the COVID-19 testing contract, awarded to Frontiers Healthcare Services. 

The House is expected to resume sitting in Accra on March 2, after a three-week break intended to stem the spread of COVID-19 among Members of Parliament (MPs) and staff of Parliament.

The Minority’s move follows the claim by the ministers-designate for Health, Foreign Affairs, Attorney-General and Gender, Children and Social Protection that they knew nothing about the contract. 

Frontiers Health Services is said to have been awarded the contract weeks before Ghana’s air space was opened to travellers, following its earlier closure as a measure to halt the ‘importation’ of the virus. 

Addressing journalists in Parliament on Friday, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, said the secrecy surrounding the contract demanded a probe. 

“Based on the evasiveness, the lack of sincerity, outright refusal by nominees about this contract and the contradiction, and comedy of unreliable referrals that every nominee appears to be giving us, we have decided as a caucus that when the House reconvenes, we are going to move a motion demanding a full-scale inquiry into the Frontiers Healthcare Services contract at the Airport,” he said.

Mr Ablakwa stressed that: “Initially the Health Minister told us that Presidential taskforce and Ghana Health Service, the second different entity is when the Chief Procurement Advisor to the President, Adwoa Safo, referred us to the Minister of Finance. Yesterday, we received a third referral from Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah; this time the Ghana Airport Company Limited.”

He said in the view of the Minority, government has breached Section 41 of the PPA Act and Section 11 of the Fees and Charges Act for not bringing the US$150 charge to Parliament for approval or otherwise. 

“Already all the laws have been broken so far as this contract is concerned. The US$150 that is being charged needs to be approved by the House, but it wasn’t approved by Parliament. So this $150 charge is illegal,” Mr Ablakwa, NDC MP, North Tongu, emphasised. 

Ghana’s testing regime is said to be one of the most expensive in the world with other countries doing same for as little as US$50. 

The fee has since been reviewed to US$50 for Ghanaian and ECOWAS citizens after months of public outcry. Non-ECOWAS citizens, however, still pay the US$150 for the test when they arrive in the country.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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