Demand Frontier's COVID testing contract from Presidency – Ephson to Parliament

There have been fears about the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant
Parliament should be able to write to the Presidency to demand copies of the contract document covering the agreement with the Frontier Healthcare Services, Pollster and Managing Editor of the Dispatch Ben Ephson has said.

His comment comes after Former Deputy Attorney-General Godfred Dame has told the Appointments Committee of Parliament Friday, February 12 that he was not privy to the contract signed between the Government of Ghana (GoG) and Frontier Healthcare Services for covid-19 testing.

The company was contracted under urgent, yet controversial circumstances to do Covid-19 mandatory testing at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) when Ghana opened its air borders in September 2020.

There have been concerns regarding the procurement of the company, its licensing and the $150 fee it charges for Covid-19 testing; an amount many have described as exorbitant.

Health Minister-designate Kwaku Agyemang-Manu disclosed to the Appointments Committee that the company was procured by the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 and that he as sector minister at the time had no idea how the procurement was done.

He disclosed the company was not licensed when it commenced work but that it eventually did. Mr. Agyemang-Manu said he did not see the contract between the company and the Government of Ghana.

Minister-designate for Foreign Affairs, Ayorkor Botchway, who was the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, also told the committee she was not consulted on the matter before the arrangement was put in place.

A Former Deputy Minister of Health and member of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, Dr. Bernard Oko-Boye, is also reported to have said in a media interview that he did not see the contract despite he is a member of the team that awarded it.

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Mr Dame was asked by Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, if he saw the contract in question. Mr. Dame answered in the negative.

“Mr. Chairman, I’m not in the position to tell whether indeed it was referred to the office of the Attorney General. Even this afternoon I have indicated that the Agyapa agreement, we spoke about it extensively, I was not the one who worked on it because the Attorney General assigns work as and when necessary”, he explained.

Mr. Ablakwa asked if the matter came to the attention of governing board of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) since Mr. Dame was a member.

But Mr. Dame said he wouldn’t know. He explained volumes of documents came to the PPA for approval and that he could not tell from the top of his head if it went there for approval or not.

Speaking on this matter on the Key Points on TV3 Saturday February 13, Mr Ben Epshon called on the Committee to demand answers from the presidency.

“Parliament should be able to write to the office of the president because yes, we are in abnormal times it does not mean that an unregistered company can be made or will be given such a contract,” he said.

By Laud Nartey||Ghana