Parliament suspends action on Ad hoc C‘ttee report on Sputnik V purchase . . . but c‘ttee chair says minister was ‘candid‘

Parliament was unable to take a decision on the report of the Ad hoc Committee which probed the contract between Ghana and Emirati businessman, Sheikh Ahmad Dalmook Al Maktoum, for the supply of 3.4 million doses of Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines.

The House in July constituted the seven-member committee to investigate how Ghana entered the agreement with the businessman without recourse to Parliamentary approval in line with Article 181 of the constitution.

In its report submitted to the plenary on Friday before the House went on recess, the committee recommended that government took steps to recover the GH¢16.3 million paid to the businessman, though the minister had told the committee that no money was advanced to the supplier.

The committee also reported to the plenary that the ministry did not seek the approval of the Public Procurement Authority, neither did it seek the advice of the Attorney General before signing the contract for the provision of the vaccines to the tune of US$64.6 million.

With the above ‘breaches’, the Minority argued that the minister, who had admitted before the committee that he erred in signing the contract, should be removed from office.

But the Majority caucus would have none of that, argued that the minister did what he did under emergency all in the interest of the health of the people and should be spared.

Leading the Minority to push for the removal of Mr Agyeman-Manu, MP, Dormaa Central, Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka, said the minister was too experienced to be spared on the avoidable breaches of the constitution and other laws of the country.

According to Alhaji Muntaka, Parliament has always dealt with emergency situations even during the coronavirus pandemic and that emergency could not be used as a basis for the minister to defy the constitution and that he must be made to face the full regours of the law.

“Let us have the courage of our conviction and stand by what is right,” the Asawase MP said and reminded the House of the oath the minister swore to “at all times truly serve the republic of Ghana….and uphold, preserve, protect and defend the constitution as by law established.”

In his view “the minister betrayed his oath of office and has failed to uphold the constitution and the laws by law established. I submit that the minister must be sanctioned. The minister must be removed by the president because he is not fit to occupy this office anymore.”

He in that regard amended the motion for the adoption of the report to include the removal of the minister from office.

But in defence of the minister, Majority Leader and MP for Suame, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said though there were some breaches as established by the committee, the call of the Minority was far-fetched.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu faulted the Alexander Afenyo-Markin-chaired committee for a shoddy job because “the recommendations coming from the committee were not in consonance with the terms of reference it was given” to warrant the removal of the minister.

To him what parliament is expected to do is not spelt out in the committee’s report and anything that anybody would suggest would be extraneous to recommendations of the committee report.

Given the lack of clarity in the report, the Majority Leader proposed composition of a small committee made up of leadership to relook at what specific action could be taken.

In his ruling, the Second Deputy Minister said “the motion has been moved, seconded and debated. However, I am unable to put the question. I defer the question” he said to the displeasure of a well represented Minority.

JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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